Robert Mugabe deploys troops in the streets as violent protests turn ugly

HARARE – Soldiers were on Friday deployed into central Harare to reinforce police reaction to a protest organised by more than a dozen political parties seeking electoral reform ahead of the 2018 elections.

One soldier reportedly stoned a protester to death, fuelling further running battles.

Police initially barred the political parties from going ahead with their march and the protesters only got reprieve when they approached the High Court.

The High Court ordered the Home Affairs minister and the police “not to interfere, obstruct, or stop the march but facilitate the applicants’ constitutional and freedom to petition in a peaceful manner.”

However, there was heavy police presence when the electoral reform march started after 11am, and tempers flared resulting in the law enforcers using tear smoke to disperse the marchers.

Most shops and other business outlets closed as protesters burnt tyres in the city centre and a vendors’ used clothes stall at the popular Copacabana market was torched.

Demonstrators barricaded roads with tyres, stones and boulders and some looted shops.

Police beat people up indiscriminately but some unfazed demonstrators hurled stones at the police.

Soldiers were then deployed at violence hotspots and helped the police who used teargas to drive protesters away using truncheons.

The protesters would disband and regroup in other parts of the city.

Protest leaders, Promise Mkwananzi and Sten Zvorwadza were arrested while a student leader, Ostallos Siziba, was abducted by suspected security agents at Copacabana, according to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC).

Western embassies waded into the ongoing unrest and expressed their concern over recent disturbances.

The Canadian embassy on Friday issued a statement calling for peace and calm.

“The embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe is increasingly concerned with reports of violence and human rights violations in response to public protest. The Embassy of Canada calls for calm and stresses the importance of peaceful dialogue.

“The embassy…reiterates its call on all stakeholders to respect the constitution of Zimbabwe, in particular, the freedom to peacefully demonstrate, the right to personal liberty, the right to personal security and the rights of arrested and detained persons,” read the Canadian statement.

The embassy urged government to “make every effort to ensure that public policing and justice are consistent with the Government’s constitutional obligation to respect basic human rights and freedoms,”

The Australian embassy urged the respect of citizens’ rights.

“The Australian embassy shares the concerns of many Zimbabweans at the violence which has occurred over recent weeks in Zimbabwe.  The use of violence is not acceptable under any circumstance.

It added: “…The rule of law, respect for human rights, right to free speech, freedom of assembly and other democratic freedoms are at the heart of the Zimbabwean constitution and must be respected by all parties.”

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T president, said through his spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, that the heavy-handed response to what was planned as a peaceful demonstration to push for electoral reform betrayed a partisan relationship between the Zanu PF government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

“The government’s quest to brutally stop citizens from petitioning an independent commission can only be testimony to the incestuous relationship that exists between the two. Otherwise why is government getting worked up on a petition that has nothing to do with it?” said Tsvangirai in a statement.

He warned the police against provoking citizens trying to exercise their constitutional rights.

“This regime that is now in its sunset hour should stand warned that citizens are like a spring. The more they are suppressed, the greater the rebound!” he said. Nehanda Radio

Related Posts
Zimbababwe media under siege – Mandaza
Harare - Zimbabwe's media is under siege and has been dragged back to the colonial era under the Rhodesia government, a newspaper publisher Ibbo Mandaza told journalists during a World ...
READ MORE
Speech-gate: Witch-hunt over Mugabe blunder
HARARE - As reported by the Daily News yesterday, President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF is teetering on the edge after he embarrassingly read the wrong speech on Tuesday — ...
READ MORE
Zanu PF infighting: Mugabe reigns in Kasukuwere
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s recent Cabinet reshuffle might have delivered a telling blow on Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Zanu PF Young Turks’ bid to stall Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s march ...
READ MORE
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of their talks at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on March 28, 2016.
Mugabe arrived in Japan on March 27 for a five-day official working visit. / AFP / POOL / Kimimasa Mayama
TOKYO—President Robert Mugabe, who is on a five-day state visit to Japan, has pleaded with the East Asian country’s investors to do business with Harare. Mr. Mugabe arrived in Japan Sunday ...
READ MORE
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the start of the climate summit in Paris November 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Harare - Many were surprised when Chinese President Xi Jinping suddenly, and at almost the last minute, decided to go to Harare on an official visit this week, as this ...
READ MORE
Robert Mugabe might quit before end of tenure – Zanu-PF officials
HARARE – Senior officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party have reportedly indicated that President Robert Mugabe might be forced to quit before his current tenure ends in 2018 due to "explosive ...
READ MORE
Zanu PF in-fighting: Party youths fight over Grace
BULAWAYO - The deadly factional and succession wars devouring President Robert Mugabe’s bitterly-divided post-congress Zanu PF played out in public here at the weekend when rival camps backing the country’s ...
READ MORE
‘Zimbabwe poised to be a failed state’ – Economists
HARARE — Political analysts and economists are warning that Zimbabwe risks becoming a failed state as the country faces multiple social and economic problems, spawned by endemic governance failures and compounded ...
READ MORE
Grand coalition inevitable: Mujuru
Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, yesterday said a grand coalition to challenge President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 elections was inevitable, adding various opposition parties were now tying ...
READ MORE
To hell with West: Robert Mugabe thunders
HARARE - A bellicose President Robert Mugabe yesterday appeared determined to scuttle his broke government’s tentative re-engagement efforts with Western powers, saying bizarrely that Zimbabweans would rather suffer than accept ...
READ MORE
Zimbababwe media under siege – Mandaza
Speech-gate: Witch-hunt over Mugabe blunder
Zanu PF infighting: Mugabe reigns in Kasukuwere
Mugabe Pleads for Japanese Investment in Official State
Why China’s Xi visited Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe might quit before end of tenure
Zanu PF in-fighting: Party youths fight over Grace
‘Zimbabwe poised to be a failed state’ –
Grand coalition inevitable: Mujuru
To hell with West: Robert Mugabe thunders

Arts & Entertainment