Radical pressure groups which had promised to swamp the streets of Harare yesterday staging fresh demonstrations, bamboozled heavily-armed riot police when they abandoned singing and dancing but elected to address desperate Zimbabweans who were queuing for cash at different banks in the capital.
Police had come out in full force ostensibly to deal with protesters who had announced on Sunday that they would hold protests over the recent ban of demonstrations in central Harare for two weeks by the law enforcement agents.
Instead, National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Stendrick Zvorwadza led his members in addressing people queuing for cash where he urged them to join protests planned for this week in Harare.
“The police do not have the mandate to ban the people of Zimbabwe from expressing their views. We urge people to continue confronting this evil government. This week, Harare will be overwhelmed by demonstrations,” Zvorwadza said during his address.
“Ours is a peaceful struggle against the violent government and we urge all Zimbabweans to keep on the pressure as the struggle continues.”
The defiance by protestors came as High Court judge Priscillah Chigumba yesterday postponed to Wednesday the hearing of an urgent application in which Zvorwadza and pro-democracy groups, including 18 opposition parties want the court to quash the police ban which they argue violates the Constitution.
Last week, police invoked Statutory Instrument 101A to ban demonstrations in central Harare, a few hours before 18 political parties were due to hold a mega demonstration in the capital.
The police ban on demonstrations in Harare followed bloody clashes in the capital on August 26, when the cops ignored a court order and bludgeoned thousands of protestors who had gathered under the auspices of National Election Reform Agenda (Nera), to protest outstanding electoral reforms, ahead of the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
The heavily armed riot police — backed by armoured trucks and water cannons — indiscriminately fired volleys of teargas at all and sundry, battering and chasing around groups of determined opposition supporters to the shock of Zimbabweans.
Previously, police had used force on protestors demonstrating against government’s plan to introduce bond notes and Zanu PF’s promise of 2,2 million jobs which thousands of angry unemployed youths say was just an election gimmick.
In all cases, the protestors had been granted court orders to hold their demonstrations.
But yesterday, Zvorwadza, looking resplendent in a designer navy blue suit, chose to target hundreds of people struggling to withdraw cash from banks, reminding them that it was President Robert Mugabe who had put them in that desperate situation.
“We call upon fellow citizens to democratically and fearlessly fight for the establishment of an egalitarian society in which the rights of all citizens are upheld and respected. We have witnessed police trying to thwart peaceful demonstrations but we are saying to them; ‘come on we are fighting for you as well’,” said Zvorwadza.
“As citizens, we believe that the Zanu PF regime is now living on borrowed time.
“No matter how much suppression against the long-suffering masses of Zimbabwe by the disintegrated Zanu PF regime, people will not stop to demand an environment which can bring investors into the country.”