Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa's spokesman said that there was no order issued by the army to clear central Harare. Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Harare - Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa's spokesman said on state television that there was no order issued by the army to clear central Harare and termed such reports as "fake news".

"My message today to all Zimbabweans is that today is a normal working day. They must go about their business as always," George Charamba said.

Some Zimbabwean shopkeepers said they had been ordered by soldiers to close and leave the centre of the capital on Thursday, the day after three people were killed by troops sent in to disperse crowds of opposition supporters.

Earlier on Thursday, troops reportedly ordered shops to close and told people to leave the centre of Zimbabwe's capital, one day after three people were killed by soldiers sent in to break up demonstrators claiming this week's presidential election was rigged.

The crackdown by the army has punctured the euphoria that followed its removal of long-time strongman Robert Mugabe eight months ago, and fuelled suspicions that the generals who launched the coup remain Zimbabwe's de facto rulers.

In Harare, the contrast could not be stronger with November, when hundreds of thousands filled the streets, hugging soldiers and celebrating their role in ousting 94-year-old Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe had known since independence in 1980.

"They are showing their true colours now. We thought they were our saviour in November but they fooled us," said newspaper vendor Farai Dzengera, admitting that the brief dream of an end to decades of repression was over.

"Now they tell us to leave town. What can we do? We will go. They run this country."

Nearly all shops in downtown Harare were shuttered and the normally bustling pavements eerily quiet. Several streets remained littered with the rubble and embers from Wednesday's clashes between protesters and soldiers.