AUTHORITIES in Harare were yesterday scrambling for words to cover up a nasty bust-up between police and sections of the military early this week that reportedly left six people injured.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
A joint Press conference by the public relations departments of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police lasted less than two minutes.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, flanked by members of the Harare Joint Operation Command (JOC) Colonels Overson Mugwisi and David Nyasha from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Harare police provincial commander Senior Assistant Commissioner Elias Mvere, read out the brief statement.
Charamba indicated just before reading the statement that journalists would not be allowed to ask questions as was the norm.
“We are not going to attend to any questions. We normally give you the chance to ask, but today we are not. This is a joint Press statement by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Defence Forces about disturbances in Harare central business district on August 1,” Charamba said.
The terse statement said the country’s security establishment regretted the incident and had set up a team to investigate.
“The security forces regret the unfortunate incident that took place on August 1, 2017 in the Harare central business district. We want to categorically condemn that incident and assure the nation that a joint team has been set up to conduct comprehensive investigations into the matter and appropriate action will be taken against the perpetrators,” Charamba said.
Cryptically, as if to confirm the growing concerns about divisions in the country’s security apparatus, the 70-word statement added: “We also want to reaffirm that, as security forces, we are fully united despite this incident.”
However, sources in the security services told NewsDay Weekender that this was a “window-dressing exercise”.
“This had to be done. After such an incident, the authorities had to be seen to be doing something. But nothing will happen. However, it’s a frightening situation because everything points to a deteriorating situation with a political twist to it,” this paper heard.
Eyewitnesses said the incident was provoked by a traffic incident in which police had used spikes to deflate the tyres of an army truck before the soldiers returned on a revenge mission that shocked Harare late-night shoppers on Tuesday.
Rival factions in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party angling for the 93-year-old’s seat were said to be controlling different sections of the security establishment.
The acrimonious power struggles were said to be negatively impacting on the working relationship between in particular the police and the military, possibly leading to the clashes.