Police reiterate demo warnings

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Harare (New Ziana) – Police on Thursday warned the public against taking part in illegal demonstrations planned for July 31 by the opposition, saying security forces were on high alert to enforce the marches’ ban.

The opposition, together with like-minded non-governmental organisations, have threatened to hold the marches in disregard of the government’s ban.

The marches have been called ostensibly to protest against top-level corruption and economic hardships, but the government – citing intelligence reports – says this was a ruse.

The real motive of the protests, it says, was to unseat the government unconstitutionally, with the tacit support of some Western diplomatic missions whose governments oppose Zimbabwe.

In banning the planned protests, the government also cited the dangers this posed in spreading Covid-19, a global pandemic wrecking havoc around the world, including Zimbabwe.

To try and control its spread, the government has put in place a number of precautionary measures, including a ban on huge gatherings, and social distancing.

The protests, it has argued, would violate these, and put the lives of those taking part and others in grave danger.

In a statement, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said security forces would ensure that no planned demonstrations take place on Friday.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police urges members of the public to conduct their day to day and normal activities in a peaceful atmosphere and cooperate with police and other security service members who are maintaining law and order in the country,” he said.

“All security arms of government are on full alert and will deal decisively with any individuals or groups fomenting violence and sending threats or provocative messages through the social media or any other means. We reiterate that no demonstrations will take place in Zimbabwe on 31st July 2020. Those who decide or disregard the law, particularly National Covid-19 regulations will have themselves to blame,” Nyathi said.

He said police were aware of plots on social media to incite the public to engage in violence, with one group threatening to burn a fuel station.

“Police are aware of various attempts to incite the public through social media with one group calling itself ‘31 July Peaceful Demonstrators (3)’ threatening to burn a service station in Mvuma on 31 July 2020, and barricade the Harare – Masvingo highway and all roads leading to police stations.

“The group is led by group administrator with a cell number +27653302246 and has 249 members with some claiming to be in possession of firearms. These will be regarded as terrorists,” Nyathi said.

He also dismissed claims that security forces were in support of the planned demonstrations.

“The security services remain resolute in support of the country’s security and safety of all Zimbabweans,” he said.

Often in the past, opposition-led demonstrations and protests have led to bloodshed and massive looting and destruction of property.
New Ziana

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