ZRP is training its officers to deal with anticipated election related violence
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is training its officers to deal with anticipated election related violence and has further set up an internal committee to investigate poll based crimes.
This was revealed by police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi at a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) press club discussion held in Harare Friday.
Zimbabwe prepares for high stakes elections expected later this year.
Police were in 2018 overwhelmed by hordes on protesters who took to the streets in Harare’s CBD to express anger over what they found to be a slow announcement of election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Perhaps drawing experiences from the 2008 presidential election result which took a month to be announced, agitated protesters suspected officials were deliberately withholding the 2018 results so they could find time to rig the poll.
The army was deployed to quell the situation with six people, among them bystanders, gunned down by soldiers.
Several more people were injured in the skirmishes, some permanently.
“In terms of our preparations, we are currently conducting public order training for our officers throughout the country and so far we have trained about 75 percent of our police officers as we prepare for the elections,” Nyathi said.
“We hope by the end of April, we would have concluded the training exercise.
“The Commissioner General of Police, Godwin Matanga has set up special investigations teams throughout the country to act on reports of criminal acts related to elections, and this includes alleged violence.”
He said the police chief has also set up an elections committee tasked with coordinating deployment of police officers to ensure all polling stations are protected during voting.
Nyathi said police are not discriminating in terms of arresting those involved in acts of political violence.
“So far we have arrested people from all political parties,” he said.
“I want to assure Zimbabweans that we have got adequate police officers to deploy at polling stations.”
The country’s police force has often been accused of bias towards Zanu-PF amid opposition claims a lot of ruling party activists involved in acts of political violence are spared.
Nyathi urged politicians to avoid inflammatory language during the volatile election period.
“So far the environment in the country is very peaceful,” Nyathi said.
“ZRP is ready for the forthcoming harmonised elections, we appeal to the public to report acts of violence.
“We will arrest anyone who engages in any form of violence irrespective of one’s political stature.”
Speaking at the same event, Election Resource Centre programmes manager, Solomon Bobosibunu said some of the violence by the electorate was a result of ignorance.
“Some of the violence we see happening is out of ignorance of electoral processes.
“There is a need for massive voter education once election dates have been proclaimed,” he said.
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