GOVERNMENT’S growing paranoia was further exposed this week when it deported Congress of South African Union Trade Unions (Cosatu) representatives who were in Zimbabwe on a fact-finding miss
The Cosatu team came into Zimbabwe despite a government declaration that their trip to Harare was “unacceptable”.
The Cosatu delegation arrived on Monday evening and held meetings on Tuesday with their Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions counterparts before they were bundled out of the country the same day.
Two weeks ago government displayed its siege mentality when it deployed heavily armed soldiers and police in urban areas throughout the country ahead of the High Court ruling on Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason charges.
The security forces were deployed at all strategic points waiting to crush any popular reaction to the judgement, especially if Tsvangirai was condemned to life imprisonment or faced the death penalty.
Observers said the deployments were calculated to instil fear among the general public.
Before the ruling, fighter jets flew over Harare. Soldiers and riot police roamed the streets ready to deal with public protests in the event of Tsvangirai’s conviction.
He was however acquitted.
Soon after High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe acquitted Tsvangirai on charges of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of the 2002 presidential election, thousands of MDC supporters poured into Harare’s streets for celebrations.
The celebrations were however short-lived as security forces descended on jubilant MDC supporters, firing teargas and ordering people off the streets.Government had earlier in the week warned that security forces would be on hand to crush any public demonstrations after Tsvangirai’s High Court verdict.
In Chitungwiza, like in all other residential areas around the capital, riot police were present. Roadblocks were mounted on all roads leading into the city where body searches were conducted. Anyone who did not carry an identification card with him was forced back home.Elsewhere across Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai’s acquittal was received with jubilation but the heavy presence of the police and the army prevented any celebrations.