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Heavy police presence as Sadc summit is underway in Harare

riot-policeThe ruling Zanu PF party and its government has resorted to its old systems of intimidating civilians and opposition political parties by maintaining a heavy police presence in and around Harare during the duration of the on-going Sadc Summit which commenced yesterday.
Zimbabwe is hosting a Sadc Extra-ordinary Summit on industrialisation and the event comes on the backdrop of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
A three-day Sadc ministers meeting is underway in Harare to thrash out strategies to speed up regional industrialization. The Council of Ministers on Regional Economic Integration are expected to fine-tune a five-year road-map for regional industrialization road-map and strategy.
However the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T took advantage of the summit to launch demonstrations and street marches in Harare.
The MDC-T supporters staged a demonstration at Meikles Hotel where a Sadc council of ministers meeting is underway.
Hundreds of supporters wielding placards took to the streets and marched to the prestigious hotel where the Sadc council of ministers were holding a meeting before police swooped on them.
However Harare is littered with heavy police presence as more demonstrations are on cards ahead of the Heads of States meeting tomorrow.
Zimbabwe has been turned into a police state since Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans should prepare for massive demonstrations to force President Robert Mugabe’s government to act on the plight of millions of desperate Zimbabweans who are plagued by rising poverty, hunger and disease, the police presence has also been increased in the streets of Harare
Harare residents have reported an unsettling presence of heavily-armed police and soldiers who have set up roadblocks on all major roads leading into the city.
Prior to the 2009 power sharing deal Zanu PF was known for its repressive laws and harassment of civilians by the police.
Senior Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga said the presence of police in the city centre means absence of freedom of expression.
“This means constitutionally guaranteed rights like freedom of expression are just an illusion – but Zimbabwe is not alone in this, South Africa is playing politics with people’s lives by failing to deal with Xenophobia,” said Mavhinga.
Human Rights activist who was a victim of police brutality when he was beaten up and left for dead last week during the anti-xenophobia demonstrations in Harare Sydney Chisi the Zimbabwe government is running scared of its people.
“The Zimbabwean issue has always been discussed in foreign lands and the coming in of Sadc leaders at the backdrop of an MDC report and Tsvangirai’s visit to Sadc countries after Dzamara’s abduction confirms that this government is running scared and has serious challenges in implementation of the new constitution,” said Chisi.

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