Heavy police presence as ConCourt hears Chamisa poll challenge

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By Chris Mahove

POLICE Wednesday deployed heavily in parts of the Harare CBD where the Constitutional Court was presiding over MDC Alliance losing presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa’s poll challenge.

As the high-profile case opened, groups of police in anti-riot gear could be seen at most city intersections and known “hotspots” such as the Julius Nyerere Parkade.

Police also maintained a conspicuous presence along the stretch between Innez Terrace and First Street along Nelson Mandela Avenue, where there is the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, the MDC Head Office.

Water cannon trucks and truckloads of police officers also maintained presence outside parliament and adjacent to the Africa Unity Square, a favourable venue for protestors.

Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agents were caught by surprise early this month when angry protests over results of the July 30 elections broke out in Harare’s CBD with the army called in to assist.

Six people were shot and killed by the army which is accused of shooting indiscriminately at protestors and bystanders.

Police said on Monday they were on high alert for possible violence among groups that had allegedly threatened to disrupt the court process.

“We want to warn all those bent on instigating violence that the law will be applied without fear or favour.” Charamba said in a statement.

Police followed that with a ban on cell phones and other electronic gadgets into the courtroom on Wednesday.

MDC Alliance lawyer Thabani Mpofu confirmed in court Wednesday that he was not permitted to enter with his gadget.

Although it was business as usual with shops opened and street vendors going about their activities, there was no mistaking the tense atmosphere in the city centre which appeared to have recorded slightly lower traffic, both human and vehicular, than usual.

The court’s proceedings were beamed live on ZBC-TV.

Many people were observed at different drinking spots in the CBD following the court proceedings.

Others followed the proceedings through social media platforms which also beamed the event.

In his poll challenge, Chamisa is seeking the overturn of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow victory in the disputed July 30 poll while citing massive vote fraud and manipulation of figures by ZEC.

The MDC chief polled 44,3 of the national vote against Mnangagwa’s 50.8 percent.