ZIMBABWE police fired teargas into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators in Harare on (today) Friday, 20 minutes after the Harare High Court had declared it was legal.
The court ordered the police to allow members of a coalition of opposition parties to march from Freedom Square in the city centre along a specified route to present a petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) at its offices, between noon and 4 pm.
“We can proceed now. From 12 onwards we can gather for the demonstration to the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC). This is not a wedding its a fight,” said Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson for the main political opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), outside the court after it had delivered it’s judgment.
But police ignored the court order and fired teargas into the crowd on Freedom Square, dispersing the demo of about 300 before it really got going.
About 200 demonstrators later returned.
The streets around the square were littered with stones, rocks and small burning objects.
Before they were dispersed, a small group of opposition supporters were singing liberation war songs, including “Hondo (war) Mugabe must go”.
About 200 riot police, some armed with AK 47’s, swarmed over the field between the Rainbow Towers Hotel and the Harare show grounds from 9 am.
This was the first multi party demonstration in Zimbabwe. The protest included many former members of the ruling Zanu PF, now in the Zimbabwe People First, which was established by former vice president Joice Mujuru after President Robert Mugabe fired her for campaigning to succeed him.
But there were no signs of Mujuru or MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the start of the demonstration.
The demonstration was targetting the ZEC which opposition politicians accuse of bias in favour of Zanu PF. – ANA