Deadly protests rock Harare

HARARE - Deadly clashes between police and ordinary citizens erupted in Harare yesterday after the police blocked a High Court-sanctioned march by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), as protesters remained defiant and retaliated by throwing stones and blocking roads demanding that President Robert Mugabe must go.

The police’s actions have been described by opposition as a “brutal suppression” of a legal peaceful march.

A High Court order which was granted yesterday morning read: “The applicant’s (Nera) members are hereby allowed to exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate and present a petition to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) head office by engaging in a peaceful street march on the 26th of August starting from 1200 noon to 4:00pm, in fulfilment of the notification dated August 12, 2016,” read the court order.

“The respondents (officer commanding Harare, commissioner-general of the police and Home Affairs minister) are hereby ordered not to interfere, obstruct or stop the march en route referred to in paragraph 1 and 2, which is to facilitate the applicant’s constitutional rights and freedom to petition in a peaceful manner.”

But police refused to allow the mega demo to go ahead.

Nera is a grouping of 13 opposition political parties including, Morgan Tsvangirai’s  MDC and former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s  Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).

After the police were shown the court order, one senior officer who seemed to be in command ordered his officers to continue dispersing the protestors.

“Beat them, throw teargas at them, they should not gather,” the officer ordered.

While the police sprayed and tear-gassed unarmed demonstrators who were waiting to start the march to advocate for electoral reforms, other protestors in the Central Business District (CBD) were turning it upside down, as it became a war zone.

Vendors’ stalls that reportedly belong to Zanu PF activists were set alight at Copa Cabana Bus Terminus, while huge boulders were used to block traffic.

Tyres were also burnt in the streets to block traffic, with a Robert Mugabe Road sign being ripped off the poles.

Sirens were heard in the capital as police trucks with water cannons made rounds indiscriminately spraying people in the CBD.

Mothers with children strapped on their backs, elderly people and other citizens took to their heels as tear smoke engulfed the city.

Shops were closed as business operators feared their premises would be looted with Choppies Supermarket, which is co-owned by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko being a major target. 

The army was also deployed to help the police who were engaged in running battles with protestors, as a helicopter kept hovering around Freedom Square, venue of the protest.

“The police are refusing to recognise it  (Court order) and  they saying we have to go and give it to the regulating authority. I have inquired with them to say who is in charge but they are refusing to disclose any names,” one of the lawyers, Gift Nyandoro said after trying to engage the police.

“It’s a bad day for Zimbabwe whereby this is a clear case of being contemptuous of court orders, of disregard of the rule of law, this is the extent the regime has gone.

“I’m going to the offices of the regulating authority, then we take it from there, if it means we need to file a thousand court applications that’s what we will do. It’s a sad day for Zimbabwe because the court itself has been overturned.”

During the chaos, several people were arrested, especially those putting on MDC party regalia.

There has been growing protests in the country, as citizens, challenge Mugabe and his government to step down as they have failed, with the economy plummeting.

Zanu PF, which promised to create 2,2 million jobs has also been blamed for creating havoc in the economy, with unofficial statistics putting the unemployment rate at over 90 percent.

Police also blocked a prayer march by church leaders on Thursday. The churches were pleading with government to call for a national dialogue and address the ongoing crises.

On Wednesday, another demonstration by MDC youths turned violent after the police descended on the protestors and brutally crushed the demonstration, which was against police brutality.

In a statement yesterday, MDC director of communication and Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, said the police brutality exposed Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and his security colleagues who gave the police the orders to crush any demonstration.

“They actually meant to say they would quash any legal gathering, as they have done today by suppressing a sanctioned march. Now that it is the government and the police who have obstructed a sanctioned march in violation of a court order, it stands to reason that this government is working very hard to provoke the law-abiding citizens of this country,” Tamborinyoka said.

“It is Chombo himself and the police that are in contempt of court and that have brazenly violated and trampled upon the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country. In any case, the petition the leaders wanted to lodge had nothing to do with the government, but with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a supposedly independent Commission.

“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?”

“Today’s brutal suppression of the people will not stop them from exercising their rights as given by the Constitution.  The police should stand warned not to continue to provoke the peace-loving and innocent people of Zimbabwe whose only crime today was to attempt to exercise their 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!”

Comments (12)

Fact: ZANUPF youths wearing ZRP Uniforms do not and cannot obey the orders from judges. This IS our dilema and tragedy.

Sekuru Ndoronga - 27 August 2016

You seem to be very correct ,because there is no other way to explain the police that we find on the steets these days. The lack of professionalism is astounding

ziggy zigawo - 27 August 2016

Chombo is definitely one for the ICC

jason mpala - 27 August 2016

All demonstrations should have people who are responsible for it registered and if it turns violent those people should be held accountable and jailed for the damage to property and people . This will stop people from applying for demonstrations that they can not control and the police will know who to deal with .

Hayibo ! - 27 August 2016

I differ greatly with Haylbo. The MDC-T is too large an organisation and to hand over hundreds of thousands of invited people in structures would not only be technical madness but also a violation of the right to privacy and the safeguarding of personal information by the Parties involved. Since protests are a right, why must the police act in such a manner? The answer is simple; They are ZANU PF youths who changed the yellow and green regalia into police uniforms, dropped the axes for the button stick, and their toxic lies for the teargas. Why must they then command such respect? Think again.HANNIBAL

Hannibal - 27 August 2016

The opposition leaders must be arrested and made to account for the barbaric nature of the way they are trying to hold the country at ransom. What is peaceful about looting and blocking traffic. The government should be wise enough and use cattling strategy , lock them up or alternatively do it the Israel way destroy houses of any activist caught committing violence . Another way of handling these lunatics and thugs is to let them continue with the march and see if the can manage to be peaceful. Let them shoot themselves in the foot .

trevor - 27 August 2016

Haylbo i think is a zanu pf minister so we cannot expect this guy to think normally. he/she is a lunatic drapped in illgotten wealth and so only bothers protecting those things and not peace or jobs fo other zimbabweans. see how they block discussions on police brutality in parly.

jolicho - 27 August 2016

The most barbaric thing is for th President not to know where th diamonds went n to try to make a CEO accountable. That's too shocking! Those are things that cause people to b angry... Is th gvt serving th nation or is it serving itself??? Mugabe n his bunch of thieves must GO!

Dhewa - 27 August 2016

The strangest part of their deficient brains is where it allows these fellows to be happy with fat bank accounts and not mind the rot around them. This is very very strange and to make matters worse, these fellows who have been recycled by the same man since they got their independence, have no idea how to repair the country they broke. Shame stereki mgabe. Our weapon is now their terror. These guys are now very afraid of us, they don't know where to go should they be overpowered by a popular revolt that is definitely coming.

Jegwede - 28 August 2016

That's correct.All police officers are now ZANU thugs.I was in police myself but I decided to leave long time ago,the moment I realised that we were not protecting the people any more,, instead we were abusing them.Not only myself but most of the police who operated between 2000&2008 ran away because of all these abuses.So ZANU was taking the people they know are in support of them&give them uniforms.Now its not about qualifications but its about commitment. U must be a ZANU evil thinking young man for u to be a police officer.People without education are easy to control&also to fool them.

Matsotsi - 28 August 2016

Over the years gone by zanu pf government have failed to put an end to all forms of violence wether inside zanu pf itself or outside and now violence will put a stop to zanu pf governance.

X-MAN IV - 28 August 2016

When people walk in the dark without a torch they see vampires from all directions! Our country has come to this.

Mazano Rewayi - 29 August 2016

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