Free Zimbabwe campaign marches due to have launched on 16th August in Harare Zimbabwe disrupted by Zanu PF

On Friday, MDC Zimbabwe was poised for its first Free Zimbabwe marches to have been held in Harare, the march was planned to start from Africa Unity and follow a carefully planned route around the city centre and back to Africa Unity Square where President Chamisa was due to speak. Unfortunately, an 11th hour Police of Zimbabwe prohibition saw the march cancelled. Following an urgent application by the People’s lawyers to overturn the prohibition, the High Court ruled in favour of the Police prohibition order. The peoples’ lawyers expressed total shock and thought that the judgement had been riddled with political interference.

The regime had also deployed a huge Police presence from Thursday, 15th August at both the Africa Unity Square and MDC HQ.

Protestors had already started gathering at the Africa Unity Square from 6am in the morning only to be advised that they needed to wait for a High Court judgement which would have seen the march go ahead or remain cancelled. After hearing that the verdict favoured the Police prohibition order, protestors remained sat on the ground near the MDC HQ and what followed was very sad indeed.

The Zimbabwe Riot Police pounced on the innocent protestors and proceeded to assault them including throwing teargas. 3 people received serious injuries and one of them is in hospital fighting for their life.

Reports of abductions, victimisation and torture of party activists and other civic activists have been reported with some badly assaulted and in hospital. The USA Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian A. Nichols visited one of the victims (Tatenda Mombeyarara) in hospital. An MDC youth leader, Mufakose Youth Chair, Blessing Kanotunga was abducted and assaulted on 13th August, the number of abductions and torture had risen to 6 by Friday morning 16th August. By the end of the day, up to 100 had been arrested including 8 MDC leaders.

Why are the people of Zimbabwe protesting?

The protest is against the government’s handling of the economy, which is at its worst in a decade and has plunged most citizens into poverty. Millions of people are poor, cannot afford basics such as feeding their families, putting food on the table is a real challenge for some, education has become a privilege for many, they can’t afford school fees which went up 3 times this in some schools, with children’s classroom attendance at its most lowest in a decade.

What does the data tell us – The Zimbabwe Population (Live stats), 17,343, 546 (14 August, 2019) source: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/zimbabwe-population/

5.1m people in Need (9 Aug); 3.7m people targeted for assistance; 2.5m children in need https://data.humdata.org/group/zwe (April 2019); 31.1 % of the population is urban (5,379,389 people in 2019), majority is rural.

The economy deteriorated even further since the regime came into power in a coup in November 2017. Despite promises by the government to turn around the economy, no change has materialised. Instead cases of high level corruption have come to light such as the NSSA forensic audit which revealed how the former Zanu PF Minister Mupfumira misappropriated funds.

Added to this are issues of unemployment, power and fuel shortages. The government has also failed to usher in meaningful political reforms and are known to politicise aid, with reports of partisan food and farm input distribution which favour Zanu PF members reported from many parts of the country. This disadvantages other citizens not aligned to the regime.

These national challenges facing the country are a result of governance and political legitimacy crisis arising out of the stolen election of July 2018 which saw ZEC and the ConCourt collude to give ED the Presidency.

 

Patricia Chinyoka
UK & Ireland Spokesperson
18 August 2019