Zimbabwe : massive show of force in Harare

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Chinese made jet-fighters flew over Harare mid-day Sunday and other major towns while soldiers, armed to the teeth are roaming around the streets. At least 40 armoured vehicles, including four Israeli-made water cannon, anti-riot trucks and six armoured personnel carriers weighed down with heavily armed troops, swept through the street of Harare for several hours in a massive show of force.

Three Chinese-built MiG-21 fighters streaked over farmland in Mashonaland West and in Masvingo in an intimidatory display of force, villagers say. These actions underlined the threat being spread by ruling party thugs: “If President Mugabe loses the election, we will go to war.”

soldiers everywhere

Defence sources said at all military barracks in Harare soldiers were moving out in small convoys of three lorries at a time. At Cranborne Barracks on the outskirts of the capital, soldiers were reportedly towing a BM-21 multiple-rocket launcher, a fearsome weapon that can fire 40 122 mm rockets in six seconds.

Early today, the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change announced that it has made historic gains in the country’s most hotly contested general election since independence 28 years ago. It said that its leader Morgan Tsvangirai clinching 67 percent of the total
ballots counted so far. Such a closely contested race is unprecedented in a country where Mugabe’s party has ruled virtually unchallenged since 1980.

MDC apparently leading

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told the fourth press conference this afternoon that the MDC had made significant inroads into ruling party strongholds and retained all major urban centres. After early results were announced by the MDC, which has been barred by the authorities from doing so, some MDC supporters drove through the streets of Harare honking their horns. They gave the open hand salute of the party and shouted the MDC slogan: “Chinja! Chinja! Chinja!” Police are stopping jubilant MDC supporters celebrating “the people’s victory.”

Several high-level ruling party officials and Cabinet ministers lost their seats to MDC candidates. Among them is Elliot Manyika, Shuvai Mahofa, Walter Mzembi, Patrick Chinamasa, Chen Chimutengwende, Stan Mudenge, Oppah Muchinguri and Ignatius Chombo. Under a fit of rage Manyika is reported to have shot and killed a villager at point blank rage.

Fear of troubles between rival parties

He is in hiding, police say.. Meanwhile, police were being deployed throughout the country to prevent any possible outbreaks of trouble between the rival parties. Riot police were sent to the Harare ghettos, scene of repeated clashes in previous weeks between ruling party militants and opposition supporters.

Police boss Augustine Chihuri has previously said the various arms of the
security forces, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the Air Force of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), and the Zimbabwe Prison Services, had pooled resources to ensure they dealt effectively with any violence.

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