Police and anti-Mugabe protestors clashed at the venue of the Southern African Development Community Extra Ordinary Summit in Harare on Tuesday as leaders of the regional bloc started trooping in for the heads of states and government meeting that starts in the capital Wednesday.
More than 200 people, holding placards denouncing President Robert Mugabe, gathered at the corner of Jason Moyo Street and Julius Nyerere Way and marched to a local hotel where the SADC Summit is taking place.
The protestors were led by Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change national youth leader, Happymore Chidziva.
Some of the placards read and I quote “SADC: We Want Free and Fair Elections in Zimbabwe”. Other protestors held placards demanding that SADC also takes action on last month's disappearance of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara.
Police pounced on the protestors resulting in the demonstrators running in different directions, leaving their placards at the entrance of the hotel. Some of the SADC delegates came out of the hotel to read the placards and also witnessed the police clamping down on the protestors.
Some police officers were assaulted by another group of demonstrators near the MDC-T’s Harvest House headquarters resulting in the police maintaining a heavy presence at the opposition’s headquarters the whole day.
One of the protestors, James Mukwaira, told Studio 7 that the demonstration was meant to take the Zimbabwean crisis to the doorstep of the SADC leaders.
Another demonstrator, Mathew Manomano, urged SADC leaders to take action on President Robert Mugabe whom he accused of playing a major role in the alleged manipulation of previous elections. Manomano said Zimbabwe is far from being called a democratic state.
Protestor Wilfred Nyamanhindi said SADC should not remain quite when foreign nationals were being butchered in South Africa in what is now commonly known as xenophobia. The Jacob Zuma administration has responded to the xenophobic attacks by deploying the army in the streets across the Limpopo.
SADC heads of state and governments are expected to meet tomorrow following a meeting of the regional bloc’s council of ministers that was held today. At the time of going to air, the ministers were still meeting while President Mugabe and his Zambian counterpart were holding another meeting at State House.
The SADC Summit is being held under the theme: Regional Strategy and Roadmap for Industrialization.