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Zimbabwe Protest Leaders Defiant Amid Alleged Police Intimidation


FILE: People thong on the streets as they protest and clash with Zimbabwean police in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016. Police in Zimbabwe's capital fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to quell rioting by taxi and mini bus drivers protesting what they describe as police harassment. The violence came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of economic hardships and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

FILE: People thong on the streets as they protest and clash with Zimbabwean police in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016. Police in Zimbabwe's capital fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to quell rioting by taxi and mini bus drivers protesting what they describe as police harassment. The violence came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of economic hardships and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Some protest leaders say they will continue staging mass stay aways even if they are being allegedly intimidated by state security agents, who have asked them to hand themselves over to the police to face unspecified charges.

Police say Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement and Promise Mkhwanazi of Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign allegedly broke some laws when they organized the Wednesday stay away.

One of the political activists sought by the police is Stanely Zvorwadza, who has led protests at Sheraton Hotel in an attempt to force Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko to seek alternative accommodation.

Mphoko has been staying at the hotel at the taxpayers’ expense since his appointment.

Zvorwadza’s lawyer, Obey Shava, said he would take Zvorwadza, the chairperson of the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe, to the police’s Law and Order Section.

"I can confirm that my client Mr. Stanley Zvorwadza has been called by the police, CID Law and Order. We are yet to ascertain the reason why he has been called," Shava said

Zvorwadza said police threats to lock him up and other protesters won’t stop Zimbabweans from making various demands, including the removal of Mphoko from Sheraton Hotel, the immediate address of the deteriorating economic situation, the creation of jobs and other issues.

"We are not going to be intimidated by a strategy to threaten us with police incaceration because what we are fighting for is for the good of all Zimbabweans."

POLICE ORDERS

Zvorwadza said Mkhwanazi, spokesperson of Tajumuka-Sesijikile Campaign, who is also being sought by the police for organizing the Wednesday national protests, has handed himself the police.

Speaking to Studio 7 Friday afternoon, Mkhwanazi said, "We understand that the police has sent out word that they are looking for me, Stan Zvorwadza from NAVUZ, Evan Mawarire from this Flag and Don Mavhudzi from Tajamuka. We are consulting with our lawyers with a view of handing ourselves to the police. We are handing ourselves to the police with a clear conscience because we believe the actions we are carrying out are lawful and in line with the constitution.”

Mkhwananzi said the police action is an indication that the stay away was effective as Zimbabwe had to allegedly hurriedly look for funds to pay health workers June salaries today instead of July 14th.

‘GOVERNMENT PANICKING’

"The message has been very clear to government as you saw them panicking and paying the civil servants. It illustrates that the government has money and if we do not do anything, the corrupt government will divert the money. We therefore call on Zimbabweans to remain vigilant and heed the calls for protests," he noted.

The protest leaders have distanced themselves from social media messages calling for Zimbabweans to march from Africa Unity Square to the State House on Saturday in an attempt to force President Robert Mugabe to resign for allegedly failing to properly run Zimbabwe.

Pastor Mawarire told Studio 7 that his security has been compromised and therefore he was not likely to discuss the police order until further notice.

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