BY BLESSED MHLANGA / OBEY MANAYITI
ARMED police ruthlessly clamped down on protesters who gathered in Harare city centre for the Free Zimbabwe peace march organised by the MDC yesterday using teargas, water cannons and batons on suspected opposition supporters.
Police patrolled the normally busy central business district (CBD) and fired water cannons at protesters attempting to gather.
The opposition party called off the march after failing to overturn a police ban of the demonstrations at the High Court in the morning, but hundreds of its
supporters were already in the CBD.
An elderly woman fell motionless after police delivered countless blows on her head before leaving her for dead.
She was attended to by the reaction team from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had set up base at the Africa Unity Square.
Undeterred, the demonstrators overran the police and went marching through CBD singing and chanting slogans denouncing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s
government, which they accused of fomenting economic instability and hunger that stalks many of the jobless Zimbabweans.
Police sprang into action, launching teargas canisters to demonstrators who had turned into Samora Machel Avenue, heading towards Mnangagwa’s motorcade and
government’s Munhumutapa Building.
Hundreds were injured as police indiscriminately beat up both protesters and innocent by-standers, forcing businesses to shut down.
Journalists were not spared as police attacked them despite having clearly marked jackets, beating up Fani Mapfumo of the Zimbabwe Morning Post as he went
about his duties.
The MDC had earlier tried to overturn a prohibition order issued by the police late on Thursday night through an urgent High Court chamber application, but
Justice Joseph Musakwa dismissed it through a technicality.
Justice Musakwa ruled that the MDC approached the wrong court, as prohibition orders were supposed to be handled by a magistrate’s court.
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told a Press conference that his party only wanted a demonstration, but police had delivered a shut down.
“We want to thank the police for giving us a stayaway. We didn’t want a stayaway. They did very well and we must really thank them. They went out of their way
to shut down (the city). We didn’t want a shutdown. We wanted a demonstration, then we move to the next stage,” Chamisa said.
“Our struggle is very clear. We know our objective. A lot of people think it’s instant coffee, it must be a walk in the park. No! We are very clear of the
objective: A people’s government that is legitimate. That is the end game.”
He called on his supporters to up the ante to continue confronting Mnangagwa’s government, saying yesterday’s demonstration was just a teaser.
“We also want a government that responds to the grievances of the people. That will come as a result of this protracted, incessant, insistent and peaceful
action of the people,” he said.
Chamisa said he was not going to get into power by walking over the dead bodies of innocent civilians suffering because of mis-governance and a stolen
“We don’t want to be confrontational. If we had chosen to be confrontational, there would have been blood on the streets. But we don’t want to walk on dead
bodies to the resolution of our crisis,” he said.
“We can resolve our crisis through peace and that is what we seek. We are not anarchists. We are not blood mongers like our colleagues, so we don’t want any
lives to be lost and that’s not stupidity.”
The demonstrators, who blamed Mnangagwa’s government for fuel shortages, ballooning inflation, a crippling power crisis and joblessness, said the
demonstrations would now go into residential suburbs and vowed to continue regardless of the tear smoke and beatings.
Makomborero Haruzivishe, a member of the MDC executive, told NewsDay Weekender that until Mnangagwa leaves office, they would continue to show displeasure to
his alleged mis-governance.
“When they stole close to US$3 billion through command agriculture, they did not apply to the police. Now that we are protesting against their mis-governance,
they want us to apply to the police. We are not going to tire. They have blocked us from coming to town; we are going to go into the locations and demonstrate
there,” he said.