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Proposal For 21,000 New Zimbabwean Police Officers Draws Fire

The Zimbabwe Republic Police aims to boost its strength to 50,000 officers from some 29,000 at present by the time national elections are held in 2008, state media said.

The state-run Herald newspaper quoted Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango as saying the national police force has initiated “massive recruitment” in the aim of preventing election-related violence in the January and March 2008 polls.

Local elections are set for January with presidential and general elections in March.

Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, a police spokesman, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is no substance to reports the recruiting drive is needed to offset mass resignations over low pay.

Government critics say Zimbabwe cannot afford such a large force and that the ruling ZANU-PF party will recruit youth militia that typically target the opposition.

Security spokesman Giles Mutsekwa of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai said the government is likely to fill new positions with ruling party loyalists who are unlikely to receive appropriate training.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...