Zimbabwe protests

Image via Twitter: nelson chamisa

Zimbabwe protests: Police ordered to arrest all demonstrators [video]

“The people’s march” descended into chaos earlier today.

Zimbabwe protests

Image via Twitter: nelson chamisa

Police have been ordered to quell the Zimbabwe protests which, as a result of dire socioeconomic circumstances, erupted on Friday morning.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the official opposition party in Zimbabwe and leaders of ‘the people’s march’, filed an urgent court interdict to mitigate police brutality and allow for a peaceful march. Police, however, have refused to back down, arguing that protest action would inevitably turn violent without a harsh crackdown on demonstrators.  

Zimbabwe protests spearheaded by the official opposition

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC, has urged all citizens to take part in the demonstration as a show of defiance against, what he terms, Zanu PF’s despotic rule. Chamisa added that grievous economic circumstances – exemplified by skyrocketing inflation rates along with food and fuel shortages – have brought the nation to a breaking point.

The march, which has descended into chaos on the streets of Harare, follows the alleged capture and torture of several government detractors. Chamisa also lambasted Zanu PF for allegedly seeking to crush traditional leadership in the region, saying:

“Trumped up charges and arrest of Chief Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna is a direct attack on Zimbabwean culture and traditional leadership.This attack  opens yet another fresh national wound that will be difficult to heal. We demand the immediate release of the chief and his subjects.”

According to the leader of the opposition, police officers swarmed the streets of Harare, following MDC’s failed interdict application. Images coming out of Zimbabwe show police fighting running battles with demonstrators. Chamisa has warned citizens that central Harare has been cordoned off by law enforcement officials who are conducting extensive stop and search operations in the area.

According to reports, traffic in the capital has been severely impacted – with gridlock embattling commuters.

Zanu PF has, however, dismissed claims of widespread dissidence, issuing a statement on Friday afternoon, saying:

“Reports from our Ward based sources across Harare suburbs are that the situation is normal. People are going by their business.

The handful people earlier grouped close to the Africa Unity Square has just been dispersed by the police.”

Police officers ordered to arrest any suspected protesters

National police spokesperson, Paul Nyathi, confirmed that a prohibition notice had been issued, which effectively allows law enforcement officers to detain anybody suspected of being involved with the demonstrations, saying:

“Anyone who therefore participates in the demonstrations will do so in contravention of public order and security act and the law will take its course.

The police will be conducting patrols, surveillance, stop and searches to ensure law and order is maintained in all areas of the country.”

In January, similar protests led to severe clashes with police and military personnel. At least 15 protesters were killed by security forces, while scores more were left critically injured. Civil rights group, Amnesty International, warns that the Zimbabwean government’s refusal to engage with critical issues facing its citizens has the propensity to wreak further bloodshed, saying:

“We are witnessing a violent crackdown on activists and civil society leaders, with authorities using some of the brutal tactics seen under the government of Robert Mugabe.”