Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Zimbabwe protests: Opposition MDC vows to defy police ban on rally

Legal royalty … Chivayo meeting top lawyers Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in Johannesburg this week Legal royalty … Chivayo meeting top lawyers Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in Johannesburg this week
Patty Aguilar | 16 August, 2019, 16:14

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has given the MDC the green light to stage a protest against his own government's poor handling of the national economy which, according to the main opposition party, has driven the majority into abject poverty.

In another incident, the police said over 120 MDC A activists toyi-toyed at a shopping centre in Chitungwiza during the night while chanting party slogans and mobilized residents in St Mary's and Chigovanyika shopping centre environs to participate in the coming up demonstrations.

Civil society groups on Thursday said six activists were abducted by armed men in the last few days, tortured and dumped in various parts of the capital Harare.

The demonstration, dubbed "Free Zimbabwe March" is scheduled for this Friday in Harare before spilling to other major towns and cities.

In a statement, the police said intelligence and concrete evidence on the ground has revealed that the so called peaceful demonstrations will be violent. Reuters witnesses saw police and armed soldiers searching buses, taxis and private vehicles at checkpoints and randomly asking for identity documents.

Mr Mnangagwa swept to power in November 2017 after long-time leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in a military coup.

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At least six opposition and rights activists were abducted and tortured by unidentified assailants in Zimbabwe ahead of planned protests against worsening economic problems, rights groups charged on Thursday. Apparatus of the State In January, a violent security crackdown in Harare against fuel demonstrations left more than a dozen people dead. He claimed police had recovered "a substantial quantity of granite stones and catapults (slingshots)" that were to be used in the protests.

Cain Mathema, minister for home affairs, warned earlier this week that police were ready to deal with "unruly elements who want to cause alarm and despondency in the country". Parliament met through the night to pass the controversial legislation.

"Our strongest asset is our unity. Riots [and] destructive violence must be rejected; peaceful constructive dialogue are the way forward", he said in a statement.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says the victims were accused of mobilising people to demonstrate.

However, reacting to the indictment, government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said a "third force" was behind the kidnappings.

Obert Masaraure, the leader of a union representing 30,000 teachers in impoverished rural areas, said he had been forced to flee his home after "state agents" visited. "The regime is baying for blood", said Masaraure, who has been arrested five times since December and has been charged with subversion.

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