ZIMBABWE : 100 soldiers charge into a bus station and beat up police officers

Soldiers wielding batons and whips have launched a ‘ruthless’ attack on police in Zimbabwe amid growing tensions under 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Security forces said about 100 uniformed troops charged into a bus terminal in the capital Harare and beat up police officers, leaving many lying on the ground.

The violence on Tuesday, which underscores friction between the police and army, was reportedly triggered by police using spikes to deflate the tyres of a military vehicle after an alleged traffic offence.

One witness told the privately-owned Daily News that they saw soldiers ‘beating police officers ruthlessly’.

Zimbabwe is set to hold elections next year when authoritarian leader Mugabe, who is increasingly frail, will likely hold onto power after ruling since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe army search the streets for police after recent clashes


Soldiers wielding batons and whips have launched a ‘ruthless’ attack on police in Zimbabwe amid growing tensions under 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe (file picture)

‘We want to categorically condemn that incident and assure the nation that a joint team has been set up to conduct comprehensive investigations,’ the police and defence forces said in a joint statement.

‘We also want to reaffirm that as security forces we are fully united despite this incident,’ said the statement read out by police spokeswoman Charity Charamba, who declined to take questions from reporters.

One witness told the privately-owned Daily News that they saw soldiers ‘beating police officers ruthlessly’.

The People’s Democratic Party, a small opposition party, said the clash was a ‘sign of how dangerous our society has become.’

The military and police have played a key role in suppressing dissent during his reign.

Zimbabweans face a daily struggle to get cash, standing in line for hours outside banks that often limit withdrawals to just $20.

The economy has halved in size since 2000, with millions emigrating to seek work.

Traffic police in the country frequently clash with civilians over the use of spiked iron bars to stop vehicles at roadblocks that cause long delays.

Zimbabwe is set to hold elections next year when authoritarian leader Mugabe (pictured), who is increasingly frail, will likely hold onto power after ruling since independence in 1980

Drivers post videos on social media showing arguments with police officers, who often seek bribes.

One video that attracted many views last year showed a policeman using abusive language in an alteration at a roadblock with an airforce officer.

Last week Zimbabwe’s first lady has urged her 93-year-old husband to name a successor, wading into a subject dictatorial President Robert Mugabe deems taboo.

Grace Mugabe, 52, told members of the ruling ZANU-PF party women’s league that naming a successor ‘will enable all members to rally behind one candidate’.

The world’s oldest head of state, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, has repeatedly refused to name a successor and says he will take part in next year’s election.

His wife has previously said her husband could ‘rule from the grave’, adding: ‘If God decides to take him then we would rather field him as a corpse’.

‘President, don’t be afraid,’ Mrs Mugabe said. ‘Tell us who is your choice, which horse we should back.

‘If you tell us the horse to back, we will rise in our numbers and openly support that horse. Why should our horse be concealed?

‘I live with this elder. He has wisdom. He is not talkative but he knows what he wants… Mark my words, his word will be final.’

It was the first time Mrs Mugabe has publicly urged her husband to name a successor, although she did not say whether her statements were aimed at next year’s election.

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