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Zimbabwe Deploys Police Despite Cancellation of Protests

FILE: Opposition party supporters clash with police in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 26, 2016.

Zimbabwe has deployed police and other state security agents in Chitungwiza town, just outside the capital, Harare, though opposition parties have canceled planned protests to press for electoral reforms before the 2018 general polls under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), which staged nationwide peaceful marches last weekend that were crushed by the police.

Police with water cannons, guns and batton sticks were already patrolling the streets in Chigovanyika, Zengeza, Seke and Makoni and St. Mary’s suburbs when Studio 7 visited Chitungwiza.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust senior official, Marvelous Khumalo, said some people ended up not travelling to Harare due to the heavy police presence.

He said even those that do self-help projects also failed to conduct their business.

NERA spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai said the police deployment is an indication that the state wants to crush public protests.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

At the same time, church leaders are visiting incarcerated pro-democracy activists at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, who were locked up following a wave of protests over President Robert Mugabe’s iron-fist rule and the deteriorating social and economic situation in the country.