A Harare-based journalist and some activists linked to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai were Monday severely assaulted when police crashed a demonstration called by the opposition to demand jobs from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
The MDC-T youths gathered at the intersection of Jason Moyo and Julius Nyerere Way and started singing revolutionary songs before marching into the city center, demanding jobs promised by Zanu PF in the run-up to the 2013 general elections.
When the placard-carrying demonstrators reached the intersection of Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere Way, baton wielding police officers rounded-up protestors and started assaulting them. The police also confiscated some of the placards and banners, which read “Mugabe We Want Our Jobs Now”.
Some of the protestors were arrested while those who managed to escape later regrouped at the party’s Harvest House headquarters before embarking on a second round of demonstrations that lasted only a few minutes.
After failing to arrest those activists, who were running in different directions, the cops turned the heat on Angela Jimu, a photo-journalist from The Zimbabwe Mail newspaper, before confiscating her mobile phone and camera.
MDC-T youth chairperson for Harare province, Shakespeare Mukoyi, said he is still unaware of the exact number of people who were arrested during the skirmishes although a statement released later by the party’s information department said six activists were being held by the police. The party was still to communicate with them.
After arresting the journalist and some of the demonstrators, the police went on a spree in the central business district arresting vendors and other unsuspecting people.
Mukoyi said his party will continue staging such protests if their demands are not met. During his election campaign, President Mugabe promised to create more two million new jobs.
MDC-T national youth spokesperson, Clifford Hlatshwayo, condemned what he said was the police’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the demonstrators. He said this was a violation of the new constitution which allows people to stage peaceful protests.
By Monday evening, Jimu and the MDCT activists, were still being held at the Harare Central Police Station. Their lawyers were busy seeking the release of their clients.
National police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Charity Charamba refused to comment saying she was in a class. She declined to comment any further.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa criticized the police for arresting Jimu.
A statement released by the media watchdog called on a media panel set up by the information ministry, the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry, to convene a meeting with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri to address issues to do with the police crackdown on journalists.