BUSINESS came to a standstill in Harare’s central business district (CBD) yesterday as hundreds of protesters demonstrating under the #Tajamuka banner clashed with illegal money changers, vendors and police in bloody confrontations leaving behind a trail of destruction.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The demonstrations, which started at Hurudza House instead of the initially publicised Town House, left vendors and shop owners counting their losses after losing their wares to looting and vandalism.
Riot police only reacted forcefully after youths destroyed a brand new Zanu PF double cab vehicle, and broke into shops in downtown Harare, while they randomly assaulted people queuing at banks.
“We want you to stop grovelling at the mercy of this regime. You cannot continue pretending as if everything is normal when it’s not. Let’s join hands and ask (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John) Mangudya to resign and go with his bond notes,” said one of the protesters as they charged towards their victims.
The outfoxed police fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the demonstrators who went on the rampage in the CBD attacking vendors and money changers, forcing shop owners to close.
Unable to identify the protesters who quickly vanished into the crowds, police ended up beating anyone within their range and firing shots wantonly into the air as demonstrators adopted hide-and-seek tactics.
Journalists who were covering the rally were caught up in the melee as police shot and injured Daily News photographer Brighton Goko and journalist Mugove Tafirenyika who was beaten with an unknown object on the head.
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The two journalists were admitted at AMI Trauma Centre after sustaining injuries close to Harvest House where police forced the MDC-T headquarters to shut down.
“I am in pain after police struck me in the head. I am not sure what they used on me. I was just doing my job with my Press card around my neck, but they did not care about it,” a blooded Tafirenyika said.
Blood spatters were everywhere on the pavements leading to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s party headquarters marking the fierce fights that erupted between the police and the MDC-T youths who had stayed away from the demonstrations.
MDC-T youths who had backed the demonstration stayed away with their leader Happymore Chidziva firmly stuck in Kwekwe ahead of the party’s 18th anniversary celebrations. Police later cordoned off major roads across town as demonstrators swung like a pendulum from one end of the city to the other.
Among their demands, the youths want Mangudya to step down, the government to retire bond notes and to rein in on the lavish spending by President Robert Mugabe’s family and his Zanu PF cronies.
National police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last night said she was in a meeting when asked to comment by NewsDay.