HARARE - Zimbabwe's army was deployed in Harare's streets on Wednesday at the request of police who could not cope with the violence that erupted following a resounding ruling party victory in parliamentary elections, a police spokeswoman said.
Speaking on state television, Charity Charamba said regular police had been overwhelmed by the protesters, forcing police commissioner general to ask the home affairs minister in charge of the police to deploy armed soldiers.
Zimbabwean citizens meanwhile, took to social media to share their fears after at least one person was shot dead in the country's capital Harare as armed forces opened fire with live ammunition at MDC Alliance supporters.
The supporters were were protesting over electoral results in Harare.
Before the military was called in, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling Zanu PF presidential hopeful, called for calm.
"At this crucial time, I call on everyone to desist from provocative declarations and statements. We must all demonstrate patience and maturity, and act in a way that puts our people and their safety first. Now is the time for responsibility and above all, peace," he said on Twitter.
Presidential hopeful Nelson Chamisa earlier took to Twitter to thank Zimbabweans who supported him and voted for him.
"THANK YOU ZIMBABWE ...I’m humbled by the support you have given to me as a Presidential Candidate. We have won the popular vote. You voted for total Change in this past election!We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your WILL #Godisinit," Chamisa tweeted.
On Wednesday afternoon, violence broke out and a man was reportedly shot dead.
The slain citizen was shot near Zanu-PF Harare provincial offices, although police could not confirm this, and several more were left injured after MDC Alliance supporters took to the streets amid a delay in the release of the results of the presidential election.
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (Zec) said the presidential results would no longer be announced on Wednesday, as there were still processes to be followed to allow candidates to verify the results. The opposition accuses Zec and Zanu PF of colluding to avert the will of the people.
Some people, including South Africans, took to Twitter to speak out against the violence.
African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee member Zizi Kodwa said Chamisa's "inflammatory and reckless" statements led to the violent protests.
"Nelson Chamisa of MDC must be held accountable for inflammatory and reckless statements which has now led to eruption of violent protests in Harare. What started as peaceful elections in Zimbabwe history. He irresponsible declared himself a "winner". #ZimDecides2018," Kodwa Tweeted.
In the days after the July 30 vote, Chamisa has on a few occasions said that his party, the MDC Alliance, has won.
On July 30, he Tweeted: "Victory is ours!Long winding queues in most parts of Harare.There seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the Urban vote. Good turn out but the people’s will being negated & undetermined due to these deliberate & unnecessary delays.We are in because #Godisinit."
On Tuesday, he again took to Twitter saying: "[The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] Zec seeks to release results to buy time & reverse the people’s presidential election victory. The strategy is meant to prepare Zim mentally to accept fake presidential results.We’ve more votes than ED.We won the popular vote & will defend it !"
Meanwhile, some Twitter users have called on the military to be withdrawn from the country.
User, @84abmis, said: "Where are the Presidential aspirants in all this chaos? Who is running things? #ZimDecides2018 #ZimElections2018 #ElectionsZW"
Another user, @big_taf_ said: "Whoever ordered the army to use live rounds against unarmed civilians is equally to blame as those who incited people to protest prematurely. Heads have to roll on every end. #ZimElections2018 #ElectionsZW #ZimDecides2018"
Many Zimbabweans also posted photos from the run in with the military with emotional messages.
User, @_uLeslie tweeted: "My heart bleeds for my country #ZimElections2018 #ZimDecides2018".
User, @Khuli_Zama said: The use of soldiers shows the intolerance and heartlessness of this Zanu Pf regime, those protestors could have been dispersed without a single bullet fired #CryMyBelovedCountry #ElectionsZW #ZimDecides2018 #ZimElections2018".
Another user, @advocatemahere said: "Yes, violence is never acceptable. However, law enforcement is the role of the police force in terms of the Constitution. It’s unbelievable that, on day one, before the sun has set, they’d unleash the army onto civilians. We are a constitutional democracy not a military state."
She continued in another tweet: "And then the people realized that the monster was not just [former president Robert] Mugabe. It was a lot larger than that. In fact, the removal of Mugabe gave the monster a new set of lungs from whence to breathe fresh repression. Lord, deliver us."
Reuters and ANA