Zim police ban weapons ahead of polls

Zimbabwe police have banned the carrying of dangerous weapons in public in the capital and the southern town of Masvingo to prevent violence in the upcoming joint presidential and legislative polls, an official said on Wednesday.

”As a preventive measure the five of us … wish to notify members of the public that the carrying and possession of certain weapons before, during and after the elections is prohibited for a period of two months extending from February 21 to April 21 2008,” Harare police commander Isaac Tayengwa was quoted as saying by the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper.

Tayengwa was briefing journalists after a meeting attended by police commanders for Harare’s five districts.

”Police will use their discretion on any tool that people will be carrying such as walking sticks for the elderly, the blind and disabled.

”But if anyone tries to use the walking stick for other objectives other than that for which it is intended, we will not hesitate to arrest them,” Tayengwa said.

The ban came after a former ruling party lawmaker was arrested for brandishing a pistol at a rally and inciting his supporters against his rival in the ruling party primaries.

The Herald also quoted the police as saying two opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were arrested for fomenting violence.

Police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri warned last month that the would not tolerate violence in the polls.

Chihuri’s warning came on the back of a plea by veteran President Robert Mugabe to his supporters in December to refrain from violence in the polls on March 29.

Zimbabwe’s last presidential elections in 2002 were marred by widespread violence which left several people dead and thousands injured. ‒ Sapa-AFP

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