Two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislators and a freelance journalist were briefly detained in Harare on Tuesday when heavily armed police officers clashed with protestors who were demanding jobs from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
More than 300 youths, singing revolutionary songs and holding placards demanding jobs promised by Zanu PF in the run-up to the 2013 general election, gathered in Harare’s central business district before they were dispersed by the police.
One of the placards read, “Mugabe We Want Our Jobs Now.”
Outside parliament, police details wielding baton sticks engaged in running battles with the youths of the opposition MDC led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, blocking them from petitioning the national assembly.
Ordinary people who were in the central business district were also not spared the beatings. Some officers were also stoned by the protestors in retaliation, resulting in several shop owners closing their businesses.
Legislators, James Maridadi and Eric Murai, who represent Mabvuku and Highfield constituencies respectively, who were part of the protestors, were arrested.
Freelance journalist, Andrison Manyere, and chairperson spokesperson of the MDCT Youth Assembly, Clifford Hlatswayo, were also among the arrested, according to acting youth spokesman, Lovemore Chinoputsa.
Chinoputsa criticized the police for using maximum force to crush the demonstration.
Maridadi, Murai, Manyere and Hlatswayo were later released without charge although it is still unclear whether an unspecified number of other activists, who were arrested, had been freed.
Meanwhile, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, Dewa Mavhinga, criticized the government for crashing the demonstration saying the Harare government is undermining constitutional democracy.
Mavhinga urged Southern African Development Community member states to reign in Mr. Mugabe, saying his actions were a threat to regional peace.
President Mugabe last week assumed the chairmanship of the regional bloc at a summit held in the resort town, Victoria Falls.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T youths have vowed to continue protesting until their job demands are met. Police crushed a similar protest last week which left some MDC-T protesters injured and others in jail.