Police and protesters clash in Zimbabwe
Anti-Mugabe protesters and Zimbabwe police have once again clashed in a mass demonstration in Harare on Wednesday. Police resorted to use tear gas and water cannons to fend off the several hundred demonstrators, who were once again protesting against President Mugabe.
Protesters had the Zimbabwe national flag wrapped around their necks, and marched with placards bearing such slogans as “Mugabe must go” and “Once Liberator, Now Oppressor”.
Demonstrators were protesting against Mugabe’s economic plan, which has left the government in an economic collapse. The state of the country’s finances are so bad, that the government doesn’t have the funds to pay their military or civil service on time.
The street protests erupted over recent weeks as the Zimbabwe government introduced plans to bring in bond notes – a token currency similar to the US Dollar, although they would have no value outside of the country.
Many Zimbabwe citizens fear that the bond notes could bring back hyperinflation, and cause another economic collapse, similar to what happened in 2008 and 2009. This caused Zimbabwe to scrap their national currency in order to stem runaway inflation.
What started as a peaceful protest soon spiralled into violence as police used water cannons and tear gas, as well as batons to dispel the frustrated citizens. Police spokesmen have refused to comment on the protests, in which many people were injured – including four journalists.
Mugabe vows to crack down on opposition
Since President Mugabe came to power 36 years ago, there have been countless protests over his authoritarian regime; with rises in anti-government demonstrations fuelled by the hashtag #ThisFlag – a call to wearing the Zimbabwe national flag in public.
A fortnight ago, independence war veterans – who were strong allies of Mugabe, issued a strongly worded statement denouncing the 92-year old President and calling for him to step down.
Despite all of the opposition, President Mugabe has vowed to crack down on leaders of protests and to punish the war veterans behind the criticism. He has also promised to stand for re-election in 2018, despite his increasing fragility. However, party seniors have been lobbying to step into his position when he dies; with his wife Grace and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa possible candidates to succeed him.
“We know how to deal with our enemies who have been trying to bring about regime change” – President mugabe
Several war veterans have been arrested in relation to the damning statement – on charges of undermining Mugabe’s authority. Four of them have been released on a $300 bail – with orders to report to their nearest police station twice a week.