Accessibility links

Breaking News

Zimbabweans Claim Police Brutality During Economic Protests

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society officials treat members of the opposition who were injured after clashes with the police in Harare, Aug. 16, 2019. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

Zimbabweans defied a police ban Friday and held demonstrations to protest the country's deteriorating economy.

Despite the High Court ban on planned protests, members of the Movement for Democratic Change took to the streets and clashed with police. Some of the injured accused police of derailing protests, which they said were meant to persuade President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to breathe life into Zimbabwe's moribund economy.

With tears on her cheeks, 32-year-old Tafadzwa Bvuta said her degree had not helped her get anything for her three children.

"They beat us up," she said of the police. "What have we done? All these security forces are supposed to protect us all — not just one person. Where will we go and survive? Shall we kill our kids since we are struggling to take care of them?"

Make Nyashanu, 27, said he would continue protesting because he is miserable about being unemployed.

He said police were indiscriminately beating demonstrators — even elderly ones and people not protesting. "Is this democracy?" he asked, adding that it was a peaceful demonstration but police were causing chaos.

The opposition said it will hold another protest Monday in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, and will go to other cities and places until the government addresses the economy.

Government response

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa called the protests counterproductive, saying January's demonstrations against fuel price increases resulted in $20 million to $30 million in losses for businesses from looting and non-productive days.

"Government calls on all progressive Zimbabweans to desist from being used by negative forces to destabilize their own country, as this will only prolong the hardships which the government is tirelessly trying to address in a more sustainable manner," she said. "I wish to reiterate the call by His Excellency Comrade ED Mnangagwa for all patriotic Zimbabweans to resort to dialogue as a means to solve the challenges we face as a nation."

Daniel Molokele, the spokesman for the opposition, said his party was against Mnangagwa leading talks and accused him of stealing Zimbabwe's last election in 2018. He said the protests would continue until Zimbabwe's economy gets back on track.