GOVERNMENT has put security forces on alert ahead of elections tomorrow to quell anticipated disturbances if President Robert Mugabe wins.
The move reveals anxiety within the corridors of power that there might be anti-government riots if Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF win the polls.
Security sources said Zimbabweâ€™s military and police forces have been placed on alert ready to act after poll results are announced.
Yesterday police armoured crowd control vehicles were patrolling the city while there was visible movement of police and soldiers in buses and trucks.Â
If Mugabe fails to get 51% of the vote there will be a run-off which analysts said he would almost certainly lose.
Opposition leaders yesterday said government is likely to rig the elections.
They said they have unearthed overwhelming evidence of manipulation of elections.Â Â
Â â€œThe army, police and other key security agencies have been put on alert because government fears that there could be an eruption of protests and violence after the elections,â€ a senior government official said.
â€œWe have heard that the MDC and its allies are planning to unleash violence in the streets if they lose.â€
Senior MDC official Tendai Biti yesterday said: â€œThe elections have been militarised. Army tanks are moving in the suburbs of Harare and an army from a Sadc country has been put on standby.â€ He could however not substantiate the claims of the standby force.
The sources said recent statements by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, and director of prisons retired Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi that the security agencies would not accept an MDC victory were a result of the decisions taken by Mugabe and his security advisors.
Zimbabwean opposition and civil society organisations, as well as South Africaâ€™s governing ANC have condemned the thinly-veiled threats of a military coup by service chiefs.
Mugabe has warned he would crush any anti-government demonstrations.
â€œJust dare try it,â€ Mugabe said. â€œWe donâ€™t play around while you try to please your British allies. Just try it and you will see. We want to see you do it.â€
State Security minister Didymus Mutasa also said government would deal with protestors.
Police on Tuesday said they would ruthlessly deal with any mass action.
By Bernard Mpofu