Harare, October 28, 2014 – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party supporters on Tuesday severely assaulted some protesters who staged an anti-government demonstration while the nonagenarian leader presided over the official opening of Parliament.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s sole ruler since independence on Tuesday officially opened the second session of the eighth Parliament where he outlined the legislative agenda for the country for the next one year.
But while Mugabe was presiding over the proceedings at Parliament building in Harare, some anti-government protesters led by journalist and human rights activist Itai Dzamara rolled out banners and placards denouncing his iron first rule in the face of some Zanu PF supporters inside Africa Unity Square.
The Zanu PF supporters responded by abducting the peaceful protesters who included Dzamara, Dirk Frey and another activist only identified as Tichaona whom they severely assaulted before confiscating their placards while the police later moved in to arrest the activists.
The anti-government protesters who accuse Mugabe of ruining the southern African country have been staging peaceful demonstrations inside Africa Unity Square, a central point for several historical protests organised by pro-democracy activists.
But the police have been maintaining a heavy presence inside the leisure park in a desperate bid to thwart the anti-government protests which are a peaceful civil disobedience programme shaped along the non-violent protests that toppled some leaders in North Africa in recent years calling for the resignation of Mugabe, the southern African country’s long time ruler.
The occupation of Africa Unity Square, a park located close to Parliament building and which has been the scene of organised anti-government protests came after the protesters delivered a petition to Mugabe’s office a fortnight ago calling on the nonagenarian leader, whom they accuse of mismanaging the southern African country to step down from power.
The protesters who have christened Africa Unity Square as their “symbolic base of the people’s struggle” want Mugabe and his administration to step down and pave way for dialogue that should result in an interim administration of the country’s affairs before the holding of fresh elections.
The MDC-T political party led by the southern African country’s former Prime Minister Tsvangirai has also announced plans to roll out anti-government protests against President Mugabe and Zanu PF party’s rule.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean authorities deployed heavily armed police and other state security agents who were backed by water cannons outside Parliament building as Mugabe officiated in apparent fear that clashes would erupt among Zanu PF warring supporters backing rival factions.
However, no clashes were recorded as most of the supporters followed proceedings outside Parliament building while others broke into song and dance in support of Mugabe, who has had unbroken rule over the troubled since independence from Britain in 1980.