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Police officers arrest protesters in Harare, Zimbabwe | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Police officers arrest protesters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Shops, banks and retail outlets in Zimbabwe's capital Harare were closed on Friday after the High Court banned a planned demonstration by the opposition MDC Alliance. Heavily armed police officers patrolled the central business district while some were stationed at strategic areas in the city center, including at Africa Unity Square where protesters were due to congregate. XINHUA PHOTOS - SHAUN JUSA

Zimbabwe capital city Harare is forcibly declared
'Shut Down' after Police ban Opposition protests

by Zhang Yuliang and Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Shops, banks and retail outlets in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare were closed on Friday after the High Court banned a planned demonstration by the opposition MDC Alliance.

By 12 noon local time, all the shops in the central business (CBD) district including banks and major retail outlets had closed.

At mid-morning, a handful of opposition supporters tried to defy the ban and march through the streets of Harare but police moved in and fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Heavily armed police officers patrolled the CBD while some were stationed at strategic areas in the city center, including at Africa Unity Square where protesters were due to congregate.

"This effectively means that the junta has now forcibly declared a total shutdown of Harare today (Friday).

"So for now, the people must remain calm, avoid any form of violence and stay safely at home," MDC National Spokesperson Daniel Molokele said in a statement.

Earlier, the opposition party had called off the strike after the High Court dismissed its urgent chamber application to nullify the police ban of its intended demonstration.

Heavily armed police have cordoned off all the major roads leading into the city centre.

The regime has also deployed a huge police contingent at both the Africa Unity Square and the MDC headquarters.

Daniel said the party was going ahead with preparations for the already planned protests in the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo next week.

The opposition party has called the demonstrations against the deteriorating state of the economy and alleged government malpractices.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reassured the nation that the painful economic reforms that his government is implementing are necessary to rightsize the economy and set it in on a sustainable growth path.

The MDC Alliance has also refused to take part in national dialogue that has been called by Mnangagwa to resolve the nation’s challenges.

On Thursday, Mnangagwa implored the citizens to remain peaceful and shun violence.

He reiterated his pledge to all opposition leaders that he remained open to dialogue.

"The recent national holidays remind us that our strongest asset is our unity.

"I reiterate my calls to all opposition leaders that my door remains open and my arms remain outstretched. Riots and destructive violence must be rejected; peaceful constructive dialogue are the way forward," he said.

Protests that have been called by the opposition party in the past turned violent, with the last one held in January against a sharp increase in fuel prices, resulting in the destruction of property, looting of shops and death of more than 12 civilians after the army opened fire on the protesters to try and quell the demonstrations.

On Thursday, the government said it was concerned about reports of alleged abductions and torture of some people in Harare by unknown assailants, and said it suspected the involvement of a third force in the incidents.

This was after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a rights group, said six Zimbabwean political activists were abducted from their homes at night and beaten by armed men this week, ahead of the planned demonstrations.

"We have noted with concern and distress reports of alleged abductions and torture of citizens by unknown assailants in Harare.

"Whilst the Zimbabwe Republic Police are still investigating these allegations and establishing their veracity, government would like to inform the public of the following:

torture, arbitrary punishment and degrading treatment of citizens by anyone is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and ethos of the Second Republic," said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Nick Mangwana.

Mangwana said the allegations would be investigated as government always strives to uphold the rights of all citizens.

Heavily armed police officers patrolled the central business district in Harare, Zimbabwe | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Heavily armed police officers patrolled the central business district in Harare, Zimbabwe, while some were stationed at strategic areas in the city center, including at Africa Unity Square where protesters were due to congregate. XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA

UPDATE:

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
is concerned about 'Zimbabwe socio-economic crisis'

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) on Friday said it was concerned about the socio-economic crisis unraveling in Zimbabwe and has urged security forces to avoid human rights violations during protests.

In a statement from Geneva which was released through the local UN Office in Harare, a spokesperson for the high commissioner said that the office had noted the calling off of a planned protest by opposition members following a High Court decision upholding a police ban.

Reports were also emerging of the use of force against protesters who had already gathered in the city, the spokesperson said.

"With opposition demonstrations still likely to take place in Zimbabwe in the near future, we urge the government to find ways to continuously engage with the population about their legitimate grievances on the economic situation, and to stop cracking down on peaceful protesters.

"If demonstrations go ahead we urge the security forces and protesters to ensure they proceed calmly and without any violence," the spokesperson added.

The UNHCHR was deeply concerned by the socio-economic crisis that continued to unfold in Zimbabwe and there was need for the government to work with other stakeholders to arrest the deteriorating situation.

"While acknowledging efforts made by the government, the international community and the UN in Zimbabwe to mitigate the effects of the crisis and reform process, the dire economic situation is now impacting negatively on the realization of the economic and social rights of millions of Zimbabweans.

"Long-term neglect and structural deficiencies have contributed to hyperinflation, resulting in soaring prices for fuel, food, transport and health services, which is having a dramatic impact on the population, and particularly on marginalized working-class people.

"The fact that key commodities and services have become less affordable for poor families, means there is an increasing need for strong social protection measures," it said.

It also noted that the economic crisis was converging with the impact of Cyclone Idai that hit Zimbabwe last March, as well as the El Niño-induced drought, to create a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, with the result that around five million Zimbabweans, or one third of the total population of 16 million people, were now estimated to be in need of humanitarian aid.

"We are not aware of the indictment or prosecution of a single alleged perpetrator of human rights violations committed during or after of those protests.

"The government does not appear to have carried out the requisite investigations into the violence, including the alleged excessive use of force by security forces, in a prompt, thorough and transparent manner, with a view to accountability, and we urge it to do so without further delay."

It also urged the government to redouble its efforts to address the current challenges through a national dialogue, with the support of the international community, and to ensure that civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and activists can carry out their activities in a safe and secure environment without fearing intimidation or reprisals for their work.
.

EARLIER REPORTS:

Uneasy calm prevails in Zimbabwe capital
city of Harare as police ban planned demo

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Traffic was thin in the Harare Central Business District as motorists and other members of the public remained cautious of planned demonstrations led by the opposition MDC.

Businesses opened while the police maintained a heavy presence in strategic areas from where they could easily deploy into the streets in case violence erupted.

The police also on Thursday night issued a prohibition order against the demonstrations and warned members of the public that they would be arrested if they participated.

Earlier during the day, police spokesperson Paul Nyati said investigations had shown that the demonstrations would not be peaceful and alleged that some people had transported some assault items into town and handed them over to homeless children living in the streets.

MDC treasurer-general David Coltart said they had approached the courts over the prohibition order.

"Our #MDC legal team is at the High Court for the hearing of our urgent application before Justice Musakwa. The team is waiting to get into chambers to argue that the police prohibition of today’s march is illegal and unconstitutional," he twitted.

Reports from some residential areas also said many people opted not to report for work fearing possible violence.

Although calm prevailed in the morning, fears remained that the situation could deteriorate as the day progressed, with the MDC saying on Twitter that some of its members were geared up for the demonstrations.

The opposition wants to demonstrate against the deteriorating economy and other issues that they accuse the government of not handling properly.
.

Zimbabwe High Court dismisses opposition MDC
application to have police ban on demo nullified

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe High Court on Friday dismissed an urgent chamber application by the opposition MDC to nullify the police ban of its intended demonstration in the Harare Central Business District (CBD), state media has reported.

The MDC had made the urgent chamber application earlier during the day following the police ban which was effected Thursday night, on the eve of the planned demonstration against the deteriorating economy and alleged government malpractices.

Traffic was thin in the CBD as motorists and other members of the public remained cautious of planned demonstrations led by the opposition MDC.

Businesses opened while the police maintained a heavy presence in strategic areas from where they could easily deploy into the streets in case violence erupted.

The police on Thursday night issued a prohibition order against the demonstrations and warned members of the public that they would be arrested if they participated.

Reports from some residential areas also said many people opted not to report for work fearing possible violence.

Although calm prevailed in the morning, fears remained that the situation could deteriorate as the day progressed, with the MDC saying on Twitter that some of its members were geared up for the demonstrations.
.

SEE ALSO:

Zimbabwe asking for peace ahead of Opposition-led demonstration

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FURTHER READING:

Zimbabwe goes from bad to worse: Police beat protesters in Harare as economy tanks

Heavily armed police officers in Zimbabwe | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Shops, banks and retail outlets in Zimbabwe's capital Harare were closed on Friday after the High Court banned a planned demonstration by the opposition MDC Alliance. Heavily armed police officers patrolled the central business district where protesters were due to congregate. XINHUA PHOTOS - SHAUN JUSA

             

 

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