Thousands of Zimbabweans staged a peaceful march in Harare on Wednesday to express their dismay over the proposed introduction of bond notes, President Robert Mugabe’s failure to address the deteriorating economic situation in the country and other issues affecting the nation.
The protesters urged President Mugabe to step down saying he has allegedly failed to run Zimbabwe.
Police descended heavily on the protesters who were waving some placards inscribed “Mugabe Must Go’ and ‘No to Bond Notes’. Several protesters and journalists covering the event were injured when police attempted to disperse and arrest the marchers.
The protesters were drawn from various organizations including the opposition Transform Zimbabwe party led by Jacob Ngarivhume, Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign and several others.
The demonstration was cleared by the courts yesterday after police tried to block it. Despite the heavy riot police presence, the demonstrators sang anti-Mugabe songs during the march and openly urged President Mugabe to step down. Riot police failed to disperse the demonstrators at their gathering point in the central business district.
The demonstrators marched to the government complex, which houses the Ministry of Finance, and handed a petition to senior state officials before the police used force to disperse the crowd heading for parliament where unemployed graduates wanted to leave a second petition on lack of jobs.
Ngarivhume, who took the police to court for refusing to sanction the demonstration, addressed the demonstrators at the Ministry of Finance’s offices. He said Zimbabweans will not watch while a few individuals continue to take the country downhill.
Ngarivhume and a few other demonstrators were allowed to get inside the Ministry of Finance that was heavily guarded to hand over the petition. Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Zvinechimwe Churu, received the petition and told the demonstrators that Minister Patrick Chinamasa would respond to their grievances.
A cross border trader, Varaidzo Chuma, told Studio 7 that she decided to join the demonstration to save her family from hunger.
Michelle Mugoronji, a graduate and one of the #This Gown Campaign, equated the bond notes to tissue papers. Mugoronji said it was sad that President Mugabe has also failed to deal with corruption.
Another demonstrator, Farai Murisa, said the demonstration was designed to send a clear message to the government not to introduce bond notes. Murisa claimed that the introduction of the bond notes is illegal.
While it was not immediately clear how many demonstrators were beaten up by the police and injured, five journalists were on the receiving end.
One of the journalists, Chris Mahove, said police beat him up though he indicated that he was not one of the demonstrators.
Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya has already said that the bond notes will be introduced in October. Most Zimbabweans are against this move saying the government appears to be bringing back the local dollar through the back door.
Zimbabweans have of late been taking to the streets expressing their dismay over the current social, economic and political problems gripping the southern African nation.