Zimbabwe police fire teargas to disperse opposition protesters
HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean police on Friday fired teargas to disperse anti-government supporters preparing to protest against electoral processes they say benefit President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party.
More than a hundred police officers in riot gear, backed up by water cannon and armoured trucks, occupied the venue that opposition parties planned to use for their march.
As opposition supporters arrived for the march, they were told by the police to leave. The officers then fired teargas when parts of the crowd refused to comply.
A few dozen supporters sang and chanted anti-Mugabe slogans from a distance.
“We are not going anywhere and demonstrating is the only solution left to force the dictator out of office,” said Tapfuma Make, an unemployed 24-year-old from Chitungwiza town, south of the capital Harare.
A High Court judge was due to rule on whether the demonstration should be allowed to proceed on Friday morning.
Opposition parties leading the protests say the electoral commission is biased in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agencies loyal to Mugabe, charges the commission denies.
The protesters want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the U.N.
Opposition leader and head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, and former vice president Joice Mujuru will lead the demonstration, which they expect to draw thousands of supporters.
“The march will start at 11 a.m. and we are confident that the judge will rule in our favour,” MDC secretary general Mwonzora told Reuters.
Zimbabwe’s police used teargas and a water cannon on Wednesday to break-up a march by MDC youth supporters who were protesting over economic mismanagement and what they say is brutality by security agencies.