Water cannon used on coronavirus in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe police used water cannon on Friday to disinfect markets and bus ranks, turning instruments associated with repression into weapons against the new coronavirus.

Zimbabwean police have a reputation for heavy-handed tactics against government opponents, including dispersing protesters with water. Spokesman and assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi said the force partnered with authorities to use water cannon to clean densely  populated areas of Harare.

Reuters witnesses saw water cannon spraying empty, informal markets in Mbare township, as well as a block of residential flats.

“This is what they are meant for, not to deny citizens their freedom. Good work,” wrote @duchessmasiziba on Twitter, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government often comes in for criticism.

Harare city council was providing chemicals, bus stations and other townships would be targeted, Nyathi told Reuters.

“Besides providing security for the nation, the police decided to partner with local authorities to disinfect certain areas taking advantage of the lockdown as we join the fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

Zimbabwe, with one death recorded from nine cases of the COVID-19 disease, went into a 21-day lockdown on Monday, shutting most businesses and confining people to home.