Zimbabwe Police Ban Planned Protest Marches by Opposition

Demonstrators sit and sing protest songs after police cordoned off the street on Aug. 16
Photographer: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images Europe

Zimbabwean police barred the largest opposition party from staging a protest planned for Monday in the second-largest city of Bulawayo, citing security concerns.

Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Nyathi said prohibition orders against any protest marches were issued amid opposition by some business lobby groups.

“Various business groups had also appealed at the High Court not to allow the march to proceed as a number of those organizations lost their properties in January when similar marches were held,” Nyathi said in a phone interview.

Marches in Harare on Aug. 16 were blocked by the police, leading to the arrest of 91 activists. Police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators who gathered in defiance of the ban. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights put the number of arrested at 128 people.

The Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, has scheduled a series of protest marches in Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare protesting against the economic decline. MDC Vice President Tendai Biti confirmed the police ban but said the party will appeal at the magistrate’s court.

— With assistance by Ray Ndlovu