Zim protest: Riot police patrol capital Harare

(AFP)
(AFP)

Harare - At least six Zimbabwe activists were abducted and beaten up Friday ahead of a planned protest in Harare against President Robert Mugabe's government, a protest leader told AFP.

Riot police were on patrol in the capital to prevent crowds gathering after civil action groups vowed to hold the first anti-government protest in several weeks.

Frustration at Zimbabwe's economic collapse under the authoritarian regime of Mugabe, 92, has triggered a series of protests this year, with security forces often beating up demonstrators.

Sylvanos Mudzvova, one of the protest leaders, told AFP that fellow activist Patson Dzamara and two others were admitted to hospital after being abducted by unidentified men who dragged them out of their cars.

"Dzamara and two colleagues were taken to the bush where they were beaten up," Mudzvova told AFP.

"Three others are unaccounted for. They were blocked on the road and taken from their cars which were later found burnt.

Corruption 

"This is the most barbaric thing to do. That's not the way to stop dissent."

Zimbabwe police were unavailable to comment.

Mugabe, who has held power since 1980 and is increasingly frail, has often used brutal force to silence his opponents, and has previously warned the protesters they were "playing a dangerous game".

The planned demonstration on Friday was to focus on government attempts to print its own "bond notes" currency - equivalent to the US dollar - to tackle the country's severe cash shortage.

Many Zimbabweans fear the policy will revive hyperinflation that wiped out their savings 10 years ago and forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009.

The nation's economy has been hollowed out by endemic corruption, drought, and government policy including land seizures and laws forcing foreign-owned companies to sell majority stakes to locals.

Banks are scarcely able to dispense cash, and the government has repeatedly failed to pay soldiers and civil servants on time.

Unemployment is at about 90%, and thousands of companies have closed in the last three years.

The government says the new currency will be gradually introduced from later this month, but the date has been delayed several times.

Social media photographs showed Dzamara, whose activist brother was abducted last year and never found, lying in hospital with whip marks on his back.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
14% - 410 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 713 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1882 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.20
(-0.25)
ZAR/GBP
20.40
(-0.01)
ZAR/EUR
18.42
(-0.06)
ZAR/AUD
11.29
(-0.13)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.06)
Gold
1835.48
(-0.24)
Silver
24.14
(+0.55)
Platinum
1061.00
(+3.78)
Brent Crude
48.78
(+0.95)
Palladium
2336.01
(+1.71)
All Share
59419.37
(+0.80)
Top 40
54500.04
(+0.61)
Financial 15
11646.83
(+2.17)
Industrial 25
79758.36
(+0.10)
Resource 10
57015.33
(+0.70)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo