Monday, March 05, 2007

Getting ready for protests

ZIMBABWEAN police officers who were on leave have been ordered back to work as tensions rise in Zimbabwe

By Thabani Mlilo and Brian Ncube

HARARE – Zimbabwe Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has cancelled leave for officers and beefed up manpower in Harare and Bulawayo in preparation for possible opposition protests in the two cities, as political tension mounts in the southern African country.

In a memo addressed to all police stations last Tuesday but made available to ZimOnline at the weekend, titled, “Cancellation of Leave and Placement of Members on Standby,” reference number MJ57/2007, Chihuri cancelled all leave and placed all officers on alert.

“All police officers who had been granted leave should return to their respective stations with immediate effect and be deployed as commanded by their provincial commanders. ..

In a separate memo, also written last week, highlighting rising tensions in Zimbabwe, Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources Barbara Mandizha, ordered police stations around the country to compile lists of “able-bodied” officers for immediate transfer to Harare and Bulawayo.

Sources at the police headquarters in Harare told ZimOnline at the weekend that the transfer was a “pro-active” strategy to prepare for possible protests in the two cities, both strongholds of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

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