Leaders of opposition parties today told journalists in Harare that if the ruling ZANU PF government thinks that police brutality will stop them from protesting they were misguided as the protests will escalate.
The hastily organised press conference was called for after police tear gassed protesters and civilians in the streets of Harare. Zimbabweans who are normally viewed as docile brewed a shocker as they retaliated and engaged in running battles with police.
Police who initially dispatched teargas at the venue of the protest as a pre-emptive strike got more than what they bargained for as protesters refused to protest. Water cannons were used to try and manage the crowd but this did not cow the protesters who took the fight in the central business districts.
Didymus Mutasa , convenor of the National Electoral Reforms Agenda ( NERA) campaign told journalists that today was the darkest day of his life . He said “ I have never witnessed state sanctioned violence which is this big. It is the worst day of my life , where a government has to unleash such violence on its citizens”
“If government thinks that the violence will intimidate us then we want them to know that it has the opposite effect” Mutasa added.
President of the MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai blamed police for the violence. He said that there was no violence in the routes that had been authorised by the court for the demonstration to take place. He also accused police of being in contempt of a court order that clearly instructed police not to interfere with the protesters.
The High Court judgement delivered earlier in the day had given the protest a green light and instructed police not to interfere with the protest.
Political parties also urged the SADC chairman Ian Khama to ‘ remain seized with the Zimbabwe issue.’ The political parties also promised to carry out another demonstration next Friday.
Efforts to get comment from the police were fruitless but yesterday Minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo warned protesters that the government would not stand and watch as violence breaks out.