A few weeks ago an attempt was made on President Mnangagwa’s life. The nature of the attack was quite surprising and though many theories have been bandied about in the aftermath of the event but when it happened everyone was in shock since an incident of this nature had never occurred before.
Anyway, one of the steps that will be taken to ensure such an incident never occurs again is the deployment of aerial drones by the police at rallies. This will be part of anti-terrorism measures adopted by the police in order to tighten up security leading up to the harmonised elections.
ZRP Commander for the 2018 Harmonised Elections Committee, Erasmus Makodza disclosed that police officers have undergone special training with elections in mind and drones will be deployed to ‘monitor rallies’:
There will be increased vigilance and increased police visibility at all rallies. We will also ensure that we deploy more plain clothes police office amongst the crowds and we shall be using drones to monitor activities at rallies and capture what is going on.
Obviously, the thinking behind the national police forces’ decision to have drones is justified especially in the wake of the aforementioned attack a few weeks ago. If a drone had been deployed on that particular it would have been much easier to see where and who exactly the grenade came from.
Is this within the law?
If you have flipped through CAAZs Drone Regulations you’ll probably be wondering if this is legal since the regulations state:
No person shall operate an RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) directly overhead any person or group of people or within a lateral distance of 30 m from any person, unless:
a) The operator is the holder of an ROC and the operation has been approved by the Authority in their operations manual; or
b) Such person is the operator of the RPA or such person is under the direction of the operator of the RPA; or
c) Such person or group of people forms part of the operations of the RPA, and is under control of the operator of the RPA, and adequate provisions have been made for their safety.
Rallies are obviously in serious violation of this rule since the whole premise of rallies lies in gathering groups of people but I’m sure since the drones will be manned by the police getting a clearance will not be an issue.
Also considering how rampant drones were during the ‘coup not coup’ period in November it seems the rule isn’t as serious as it seems.
The introduction of drones for security could actually introduce risk at rallies since someone who isn’t part of the police force could fly their own drone over rally airspace and if that drone goes unnoticed that could potentially cause mayhem. Or maybe I’ve been watching too many movies?