Zimbabwe protests: a timeline

File: AFP
File: AFP

Harare - As opposition supporters in Harare brace for potential clashes with police during a planned march today, here is a brief timeline of key dates in the protest movement in Zimbabwe over the last 18 months. Zimbabweans are calling this their winter of discontent - and it's certainly not over yet. 

October 2014: Journalist-turned-activist Itai Dzamara calls on Mugabe to step down and begins his lonely Occupy Africa Unity Square protest. He is abducted from a barber's shop in March 2015 and has not been seen since.

December 2015: Kariba pastor Patrick Mugadza is arrested for staging a one-man demo in Victoria Falls. His placard reads: "Mr President, the people are suffering."

April 14, 2016 – Around 3 000 MDC supporters march through Harare to protest poverty, joblessness, missing diamond revenue etc. The size of the demonstration takes the authorities by surprise. Riot police were out in full force but did not attack the demonstrators.

April 20 - Pastor Evan Mawarire records his first #ThisFlag video and launches a game-changing online protest movement.

May 25 - Between 50 000-80 000 Zanu-PF supporters march through Harare and congregate at ‘Robert Mugabe Square’ to show their support for the president. Organisers bill this as a 'Million Man March'.

June 24 - Vendors' union chief Stern Zvorwadza and members of the #Tajamuka campaign group stage a demonstration in the foyer of the Rainbow Towers Hotel, calling on Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko to leave his luxury suite after more than 500 nights. (The VP finally did just that this month, the press has reported this week).
 
July 1 - Protestors in Beitbridge burn down a warehouse and loot shops and destroy traffic lights in protest against a new ban imposed on imports from SA. The authorities react by transferring the entire police force of the border town.

July 6 - A widely-followed national stayaway sees more than 100 people arrested.

July 12 - #ThisFlag leader Mawarire arrested.

July 13 – Massive crowds gather outside the magistrates' court in Harare to show solidarity with Mawarire, who is released on the same day. He leaves for South Africa soon afterwards and has not been back to Zimbabwe since.

July 20 - Thousands of ruling party youths march through Harare in another apparent show of support for the president. It later emerges that they have been promised free housing stands.

August 3 - Protest against 'bond notes' (a new currency to be introduced in or before October) is broken up by police. Journalists also beaten. 

August 17 - Around 200 activists from the #Tajamuka group stage another protest against bond notes. Riot police break it up. Woman in a pink shirt stands her ground.

August 24 – Opposition MDC youths march to home affairs ministry to deliver a petition against police violence. They are set upon by riot police. Running battles ensue, and ordinary citizens are caught up in the melee. More than 50 people are arrested.

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