Zim Police In Show Of Force As Anti-Government Protests Commence

Harare, October 21, 2014 – Zimbabwean authorities on Tuesday deployed
dozens of police officers inside Africa Unity Square, a central point
for several historical protests organised by pro-democracy activists
in a desperate bid to thwart anti-government protests.
A group of some disgruntled Zimbabweans led by journalist and human
rights activist Itai Dzamara on Tuesday occupied part of Africa Unity
Square in central Harare under 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 the
southern African country’s long time ruler, President Robert Mugabe.
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 President Mugabe’s office last Friday 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.
But the Zimbabwe Republic Police on Tuesday deployed close to 100
police officers armed with truncheons and riot shields inside Africa
Unity Square and other strategic locations in an enormous show of
Police also ordered informal traders among them vendors and street
photographers who patronise the park to move out of the square.
Apart from the Occupy Africa Unity Square protesters, MDC-T leader and
the country’s former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last month
announced that his opposition political party would roll out
anti-government demonstrations to protest against President Mugabe and
his Zanu PF party’s rule which he blamed for impoverishing millions of
The southern African country is currently grappling with an agonising
economic crisis which critics say is proving to be the foe for
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party which is
currently rocked by massive infighting ahead of a crucial elective
congress scheduled for December.
Anti-riot police backed by water cannons have on previous occasions
used force to break up anti-government protests organised by
Tsvangirai’s supporters who accuse Mugabe’s Zanu PF administration of
failing to create two million jobs that it promised Zimbabweans during
the run-up to last year’s general elections.
The MDC-T party also accuse Mugabe administration of reversing the
gains achieved during the years of the coalition government of Mugabe
and Tsvangirai which stabilised the troubled southern African country.
However, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party deny the charges and blames the
imposition of travel sanctions on his lieutenants by western
governments for the country’s political and economic ills.