By Jeffrey Moyo
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA) - Zimbabwean police flogged opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters and journalists who gathered outside opposition headquarters here Wednesday, leaving many nursing injuries, including broken bones.
Police barricaded party headquarters and fired tear gas for hours, turning the city into a war zone as they struck civilians, including journalists who had positioned themselves to cover an address by MDC President Nelson Chamisa.
Hordes of MDC supporters and onlookers ran for cover, dogging rubber bullets and stick blows from police.
Chamisa wanted to give what his party termed a “Hope of the Nation Address,” as the country suffers its worst economic crisis in a decade, with inflation hovering around 30%, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Exiled former government minister, Savior Kasukuwere, who served during the reign of late President Robert Mugabe, said on Twitter: “This is completely unacceptable. We have to stop this violence.”
MDC Vice President Tendai Biti, said: “It’s now mayhem at Harvest House (MDC headquarters) as Emmerson’s police are now indiscriminately bashing and assaulting any person at Harvest House and in Nelson Mandela Avenue. Dear Lord what crime did we commit? What did we do to deserve Emmerson?,” in reference to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Police and military brutality against members of the opposition has been on the increase since Mnangagwa came to power.
Only pro-government marches have been allowed by police in recent months, while similar moves by the opposition, labor and human rights groups have been met with strong police action.
Police refuted reports that it banned Chamisa’s address, with National Police spokesman Paul Nyathi saying police and opposition organizers agreed to move the event to a venue on the city’s outskirts.
The MDC party claimed it was armed with a letter confirming the police ban.