Harare (New Zimbabwe) – THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has widely been condemned for the brutal put-down of recent anti-government protests around the country, with images of riot cops beating up mothers and their children described as “pure evil” by activists.
However, the opposition MDC-T party has now claimed that perpetrators of the violence were not members of the ZRP, but activists from the ruling Zanu PF party wearing anti-riot police uniforms.
“Our investigations have shown that people in police uniform who are not members of the (ZRP) are used to beat up protesters,” MDC-T national youth assembly spokesperson, Brian Dube, told a press conference in Gweru last Friday.
He added: “Members of the ZRP are professional; they have force numbers and tags on their uniforms but those who are brutalising people are hired Zanu PF thugs.”
Dube accused Zanu PF of manipulating State security agencies in a desperate bid to maintain its grip on power.
He reminded the ruling party that demonstrations were a constitutional right for citizens, adding there was no reason for the police who are “always notified of such protests to then turn around and choose to beat up people”.
Zimbabweans have lately been taking to the streets to protest against worsening economic hardships and to demand the resignation of President Robert Mugabe who has been in power since independence in 1980.
Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has also organised counter marches and rallies aimed at showing that the 92-year-old leader still has support.
However, while the Zanu PF marches are allowed to go on without any interference, police have violently put down opposition protests.
One of the widely speculated videos of the police response shows a ZRP chief holding a child while what appears to be its mother is attacked on the floor.
The behaviour shown in the footage has been described as “pure evil” by activists on social media, who claim that the violence shown in the video is illustrative of how high tensions have become in the country.
Mugabe, facing increasing opposition to his rule even from his Zanu PF party, denies responsibility for the country’s problems, blaming instead sanctions imposed by western countries.
But indicative of the ruling establishment’s growing impatience with the veteran leader was his recent bitter fall-out with war veterans who have previously used violence to enforce his rule and help him stay in power.
The liberation war fighters said they were withdrawing their support for Mugabe and demanded that he leaves office to allow the country to move forward.
Mugabe responded by expelling the war veterans’ leaders from Zanu PF and dragging them to the courts where they are being prosecuted for allegedly undermining his authority.
- New Zimbabwe