As it happened: Zim's anti-Mugabe protest

2016-08-26 17:30

Get the latest details as Zimbabwe opposition parties go ahead with the planned grand demonstration to press for the implementation of electoral reforms.

Zimbabwe protests

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Last Updated at 20:11
26 Aug 18:02
Opposition leaders say there will be another protest next week on Friday in Harare, according to social media reports 

26 Aug 18:00

26 Aug 17:48

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change meantime accused Mugabe's government of "working very hard to provoke the law-abiding citizens of this country" after riot police attacked citizens planning to take part in what had been billed a "mega" march by a combined 18 opposition parties.

 A court had ruled that the march could go ahead."[Police] assaulted and rained teargas in the city centre and at the Freedom Square near the Harare magistrates’ court," MDC spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said in a statement.

Unrest is rising in Zimbabwe five months after a church pastor posted a video about his frustration with corruption and poverty and in so doing, launched the #ThisFlag protest movement.

Evan Mawarire has since left Zimbabwe but some of the protesters on Friday sported the national flag.

#ThisFlag organisers have consistently called for protesters not to be violent.

 Opposition leaders have said they will reschedule the march for next Friday.

26 Aug 17:47

From News24's correspondent 

Zimbabwe's ageing president on Friday warned opposition supporters against trying to stage "an Arab spring" as he left the country for a conference in Kenya while police with tear gas and batons clamped down hard on protesters in Harare.

The state Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mugabe, 92, accused the opposition of embarking on a "path of violence" but vowed an Arab Spring would not happen in Zimbabwe.

"[Mugabe] said the violent opposition groups engaging in violence should understand that they’re fighting for foreign forces that have left people suffering after removing democratically elected governments," ZBC added. 

The report said that Mugabe was destined for Kenya where he will attend the Tokyo Conference on African Development.

26 Aug 17:44
Tsvangirai: people’s anger and desperation is very deep. It mustn't relent. I'm glad Zimbabweans are saying enough is enough - social media

26 Aug 14:59
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on police brutality: 

26 Aug 14:55

26 Aug 14:39
Daily News reports that the leader of Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), former vice president of the southern African country is set to address a press conference shortly. 

26 Aug 14:36

26 Aug 14:34
Take a look at some of the pictures from today's grand anti-Mugabe protest in Harare.  

26 Aug 14:08
Skirmishes continue between riot police and protesters in Harare city centre - social media reports 

26 Aug 14:06
Opposition set to hold a press conference at 15:00 - social media reports

26 Aug 13:54

26 Aug 13:53

26 Aug 13:50

From News24's Correspondent in Harare:

It was the image of one small dead dog that summed up both the rage and heartbreak in Zimbabwe as anti-government protesters tried to hold a "mega" march on Friday.

As helicopters hovered overhead at midday and riot police tried to force opposition supporters to disperse, someone tore down the road sign for Robert Mugabe Road and photographed it lying on the tarmac next to the body of a small white dog.There was little doubting the symbolism of the picture.

"No road through for a dead dog," crowed one Twitter user, referring of course to the longtime Zimbabwe leader who, though aged and increasingly frail, shows no sign of wanting to step down.

"A group essentially saying Mugabe is a dead dog," explained @ConcernedZimCitizen.But had the animal been killed by protesters, as the official Herald immediately suggested?Tweeted the newspaper, which is fiercely loyal to the 92-year-old president: "Hoodlums contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act as they demonstrate downtown."

Prominent publisher @TrevorNcube thought they hadn't, no doubt echoing the hopes of many animal-lovers in this southern African country.

Some Mugabe watchers claim that the 92-year-old president appeared at the Harare Agricultural Show on Thursday incongruously sporting soft indoor shoes in a possible sign of infirmity.

The claim has not been independently verified.Police have used teargas to try to stop protesters gathering for Friday's march to press for electoral reforms. The High Court said it should go ahead at midday.

But home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo threatened would-be protesters in a televised statement on Thursday night, and there are mounting fears of violence.

Prominent activists Stern Zworwadza and Promise Mkwananzi were picked up by police on Friday, according to rights group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

26 Aug 13:42

26 Aug 13:39

26 Aug 13:37
Several market stalls are on fire in the city centre at Copa Cabana. Fire brigade is reportedly trying to put the fire out, according to social media reports.  

26 Aug 13:34

26 Aug 13:32
People are chocking on tear gas, as police continue to chase protesters in the city centre – reports on social media 

26 Aug 13:29
Reports on social media say the chairperson of National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe, Sten Zvorwadza, has reportedly been arrested on allegations of inciting public violence.

26 Aug 13:28

26 Aug 13:20

26 Aug 13:19
Reports on social media indicate leaders of the opposition who called for the march are nowhere to be seen, as opposition supporters being tear gassed and beaten.

26 Aug 13:09

26 Aug 13:08

"We view this as victory for democracy," opposition spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said after the court ruling.

"The demonstration is going ahead (although) we know the police have already teargassed the venue."

The move to seek court backing came a day after police violently put down another march by opposition youths, firing tear gas and water cannon and beating them as they staged a protest against police brutality.

Police tried to "discourage" Friday's march, saying the anticipated crowd of around 150 000 would disrupt business and traffic.But the opposition was defiant.

Former cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa, spokesperson for the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) which groups political parties pushing for the reforms, said the march was to demand free and fair elections.Zimbabwe's last elections in 2013 were won by Mugabe in a vote the opposition said was rigged.

Home Affairs Minister Ignatious Chombo warned on Thursday that the government would clamp down heavily on what it termed "Western-sponsored" protests seeking "regime change".

Zimbabwe has seen a mounting tide of violent protests over the past weeks, with demonstrators calling on Mugabe to step down.

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has overseen an economic collapse that has caused food and cash shortages, with the country battling to pay public servants. - AFP

26 Aug 13:07

AFP reports on the Zim protest

Harare - Riot police in Zimbabwe fired tear gas, beat up several people and blocked off the site of an opposition demonstration on Friday, an AFP correspondent said, the latest in a string of protests to hit the country.

The rally - which was authorised by a court - was to demand electoral reforms before 2018 when 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for decades, will seek re-election.

An AFP correspondent saw armed police firing tear gas at protesters who were gathered on the fringes of Harare's central business district while waiting for the court ruling to allow the march to go ahead.

The protesters fought back by throwing stones at police while some set tyres ablaze and others pulled down the sign for a street named after Mugabe.

Some people caught up in the melee including children going to an agricultural show nearby ran for shelter in the magistrate's court building while riot police pursued the demonstrators and threatened journalists covering the rally.

The usually bustling pavements were clear of street vendors while some shops were shut.

High court judge Hlekani Mwayera allowed the march organised by 18 opposition parties including the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe People First formed this year by former vice president Joice Mujuru.

26 Aug 13:02

26 Aug 13:00

26 Aug 12:47

26 Aug 12:42

In one of a series of tweets, the US embassy in Harare called on President Robert Mugabe's government "to exhibit restraint".

Australian ambassador Suzanne McCourt tweeted: "We wish to emphasise that rule of law, respect for human rights, right to free speech, freedom of assembly & other democratic freedoms... are at the heart of the Zimbabwean Constitution, and must be respected by all parties."

In a sign of mounting anger, protesters have torn down the road sign for Robert Mugabe Way, which is near the Rainbow Towers, photos from the scene show.

Fifty-nine people were arrested at a march led by MDC youths in Harare on Wednesday. Most have now been released, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. 

26 Aug 12:41

From News24's correspondent in Harare

Western embassies in Harare urged the Zimbabwe government to respect the rule of law on Friday as teargas-throwing police appeared to defy a court order allowing an opposition march for electoral reforms to go ahead.

The High Court said the march could go ahead between 12 and 4, according to lawyer Nelson Chamisa who is also vice president of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai's party is one of 18 planning to take part in the march.But riot police have used teargas since early in the morning to try to stop protesters congregating near the luxury Rainbow Towers hotel in the centre of the capital from where they planned to start their march.


26 Aug 12:34

26 Aug 12:24

26 Aug 12:21
BBC reports on social media that  the Zimbabwean police are beating up people wearing red T-shirts. "Red" is a colour associated with the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

26 Aug 12:15

26 Aug 12:13

Tear gas, water cannons and batons used to disperse Zimbabweans.

Watch the video below.

26 Aug 12:11
Despite court order allowing opposition demo in Zimbabwe, police is cracking down hard - tweets @bramvermeul

26 Aug 12:07

26 Aug 12:05
Earlier, police are said to have fired tear gas in the magistrate's courts and arrested some of the protesters. One of them (protesters) who was badly beaten, was seen lying on the floor - a source told News24

26 Aug 11:58

Today's demonstration in Zimbabwe in a nutshell - according to AP 

Zimbabwe police have deployed throughout the capital, Harare, in anticipation of a protest by a united group of opposition parties that includes a former vice-president.

The protest planned for Friday will mark the first time that the fractured opposition has joined in a single action to confront President Robert Mugabe's government since 2007.

Organisers say the demonstration will bring together at least 18 political parties and civic organizations, and will include opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe's former deputy, Joice Mujuru.

Truckloads of anti-riot police have been deployed as well as water cannons, frequently used to break up anti-government protests in the past two months.

26 Aug 11:50
According to the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper, High Court Judge “Justice Hlekani Mwayera ruled that the demonstration should be conducted peacefully from 12 midday to 16:00”.

26 Aug 11:42

26 Aug 11:40
Chaotic scenes in Harare city centre force shop owners to close their shops, according to reports on social media.

26 Aug 11:38

26 Aug 11:32

26 Aug 11:30

26 Aug 11:27
Social media reports say that opposition supporters are now blocking some roads in the capital using stones, as riot police chase them away. 

26 Aug 11:23
Reports say that several heavily armed riot police have stormed a garage in downtown hunting for protesters. They have also fired tear gas at a college, resulting in students fleeing

26 Aug 11:19

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