Zimbabwe police to use drones for security at rallies

Zimbabwe’s security cluster has activated robust anti-terrorism measures which will see police introduce special anti-terror personnel, drones and other monitoring mechanisms commensurate with the magnitude of all political gatherings countrywide.

The measure, according to State media, come as police boost security ahead of the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections, and follow the June 23 attempt on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s life soon after addressing a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

The attack has been roundly condemned locally and internationally, and President Mnangagwa has said it will not stop elections from going ahead as constitutionally scheduled.

In an interview in Harare last week, Zimbabwe Republic Police Commander for the 2018 Harmonised Elections Committee, Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza said at least 45 000 specially trained police officers had been tasked to handle security countrywide.

“There will be increased vigilance and increased police visibility at all rallies. We will also ensure that we deploy more plain clothes police office amongst the crowds and we shall be using drones to monitor activities at rallies and capture what is going on.

“As of our deadline which is 30 June 2018 (yesterday), we expect to have officially trained 45 000 officers ahead of the elections.

“Our training is focusing on management of harmonised elections, the Electoral Act, public order and disorder training, and human rights.

“We also have a manual that we have produced for all officers involved. It basically contains the key elements of the Electoral Act which the police will be using during the elections.”

Snr Asst Comm Makodza said police district and provincial commanders were in the process of issuing bans on dangerous weapons, a process that would culminate in a national prohibition order.

“In terms of the bans on dangerous weapons, officers commanding in districts that include Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Midlands, Mashonaland East have already started issuing the bans that make certain weapons illegal prohibited weapons are catapults, knobkerries, bows and arrows, knives, machetes, axes and spears.

He said the environment was relatively calm with cases of intra-party violence having been recorded mostly during party primary elections.

Snr Asst Comm Makodza said most cases of intra-party violence had not gone to prosecution as those involved opted for out-of-court settlements.

“The ZRP acknowledges that the nation has heeded the call by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa to carry out elections campaigns in a peaceful environment,” he said.

“Besides the Bulawayo incident, which we have come up with practical measures to prevent in the future, this election is very peaceful. We are confident the call for peace has been received by most Zimbabweans.

“During our assessment in the provinces, on the state of preparedness for the elections, we note traditional and religious leaders are in line with us, they agree that the elections this time are peaceful, compared to the previous polls.”