The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has purchased vehicles worth more about $1 million to deal with threats to law and order, including demonstrators who government views as agents of regime change.
The vehicles include buses, utility trucks and traffic enforcement cars that will be deployed throughout the country.
The fleet includes two buses, 25 Ford Ranger single cab trucks and 28 traffic enforcement Ford Fiesta B-Cars.
Fleet reinforcements come after police were stretched by restless citizens who have been demonstrating against corruption, unpopular policies, a worsening economy, human rights abuses and rising poverty.
Human rights defenders, diplomats and political parties have loudly complained against police heavy-handedness as they reacted to the protests.
Local and international critics recently warned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank against resuming direct lending to Harare, fearing President Robert Mugabe’s government could use the money to undermine human rights.
Police chief, Augustine Chihuri said the vehicles were necessary to maintain peace and to deal with civil disobedience.
Peace is just like a balloon, once perforated, no matter how small the puncture may be, it becomes useless and a candidate for the trash-bin.
“This is the reason why we get extremely perturbed when criminally-minded people take peace for granted, juggle with it and putting unnecessary dents on it,” he said at the commissioning of the vehicles.
“We always stand ready to lawfully and decisively deal with criminal malcontents, who quite often, are drenched in sheep skins when in actual fact they are shameful agents of the tired crusade of the illegal regime change agenda in Zimbabwe. The law will indeed be applied squarely, fairly and without fear or favour,” Chihuri said.
“It is no doubt that this new fleet of vehicles will go a long way in enhancing your efforts in maintaining law and order, in particular, enforcing good behaviour by road users,” Ignatius Chombo, the minister of Home Affairs under which the police falls, said at the commissioning of the vehicles in Harare on Tuesday.
Chihuri added that the vehicles would help improve police visibility and deter law breakers.
“Consequently, with these additional vehicles, the government has obviously extended to us the armour and ammunition to swiftly respond to the demands and dictates of policing services,” he said.
Even though he said the police fleet was ageing, the law enforcement agency has every year bought state-of-the-art vehicles, with most of them going to the top cops.
Suspicion is high that the police are using money obtained from roadblocks to buy the vehicles which are then used to deny citizens their right to demonstrate.