Police have arrested at least 17 people protesting against Zimbabwe’s deteriorating social and economic situation at Africa Unity Square, some of them believed to be civic society activists planning to camp at the place for 16 days and 16 nights.
Twelve people were arrested Thursday afternoon, including some vendors who were caught up in the swoop and were still detained at Harare Central Police Station, at the time of publishing this article.
On Wednesday night police also arrested Itai Dzamara’s young brother, Patson, Makomborero Haruzivishe, Pride Mukono, Brian Kasunzuma and another activist only identified as Oliver on allegations that the five men robbed two women.
Charles Nyoni of Itai Dzamara’s Occupy Africa Unity Square, said the five were expected to appear in court Friday.
“In the early hours of the morning two women we suspect to be police details dressed in civilian clothes came to where we were and asked for direction to Murehwa. When they were given the directions they later came screaming that they were being robbed,” Nyoni explained.
He said police then came from nowhere and arrested Patson Dzamara and another men, accusing them of robbing the women of their belongings. The other men protested and were also arrested. Police were not available for comment.
This comes amid reports of conflicts among some of the activists drawn from the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement and the Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance camping there.
Nyoni claimed that some of the protesters were spies planted by the state who were working with state media to disrupt their project.
“The problem only started after the ZBC visited us for some interviews. It is the state media that is peddling lies that there are divisions,” Nyoni said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Activists Alliance founder Lynnette Mudehwe confirmed to Studio 7 that there was a misunderstanding over the leadership of the 16 days and nights protest at Africa Unity Square.
“It’s very unfortunate that when some people are invited to come in solidarity with a project they then muscle or wrestle and want to control it. That’s very unfortunate because no one was supposed to be tussling to be wanting to control.
“We should have been complementing each other because Zimbabwe Activists Alliance are the ones who initiated this project,” Mudehwe said.
Mudehwe accused Patson Dzamara and Linda Masarira of Women in Politics Alliance of trying to elbow her out of the her project.
"The people from Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement want to monopolize Africa Unity Square. They think that anything to do with the name is theirs because Itai Dzamara was fighting from the square," Mudehwe said.
She, however, said she was going back to the park after having abandoned the project for two days.