As Zimbabwe continues its crackdown on anti-government demonstrators, a report has surfaced that President Robert Mugabe’s forces have fired live ammunition at protesters. The allegations have been denied by the government, though Mugabe is on record as saying he has lost patience with anti-Mugabe mass action. The report that police fired live ammunition appeared on Saturday on The Zimbabwean, which is run by a “group of committed and professional Zimbabwean journalists and friends from around the world who came together in 2005 to make a stand for freedom of the press in the face of a news blackout by the Zanu (PF) government in Zimbabwe”. The report, part of a running tally of protest activity, at www.thezimbabwean.co is short, specific – and chilling:
Police in Kuwadzana who were backed by a single cab Ford Ranger fired live ammunition on protesters. The single cab with South African No. plates was used to abduct 10 activists. Police after the abduction arrested 2 activists. 3 people armed with AK47 chased #MyZimbabwe activist1 Cde Dunga instructing each other to shoot him. Two of these thugs were clad in ZRP uniform whilst one of them was wearing a Tshirt.
Hatfield protestors dispersed by police,and eight arrested which include PR MP Ronia Bunjira and Stanley Manyenga.
Highfield demonstration currently underway.
Police action against protesters has been ramped up in recent months, with increasing reports of torture and abductions. The Zimbabwean government is also believed to be spying on citizens through social media channels with a view to nipping unrest in the bud. Zimbabwe is in a deep economic crisis, with ailing President Robert Mugabe clinging to power. Police have urged anyone with evidence that forces have opened fire at citizens to come forward, but that’s not likely where the police are the prime suspects and the rule of law is disintegrating. – Jackie Cameron
An activist who was brutally tortured in troubled Zimbabwe last week is to be operated upon Monday.
Sylvanos Mudzvova, 38, said on Facebook that his stomach “had developed some challenges” and doctors “want to sort it out”.
It’s not clear if the operation has been necessitated by the torture he received last week at the hands of what many believe were state agents who abducted him from his home in front of his family on Tuesday night.
A member of the Tajamuka pressure group, Mudzvova has been recovering in a private hospital in Harare after passersby later found him unconscious, having been tortured on his genitals and feet and injected with an unknown substance.
Longtime president Robert Mugabe has said “our patience has run out” with a wave of protests against government-fuelled corruption and poverty that began online in April with a post from a Harare pastor, Evan Mawarire.
Mawarire has since fled into exile. Tajamuka, which means We are Agitated, is one of the groups that’s stepped into the breach, holding flash protests and drumming up courage for the anti-Mugabe movement.
Protests were held again on Saturday in several towns and cities across the country, this time calling for electoral reforms ahead of polls in 2018 that Mugabe, though ageing, may still stand in.
Definitive figures for the number of those arrested on Saturday are difficult to obtain. Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi put the number at 21, while Tajamuka has not revised its initial count of 87.
Police – and some in the independent media – have since hit out at over-excited reports on the demonstrations.
Media watchdog @ZimMediaReview said in reference to a claim in a private weekly on Sunday: “Parts of Harare were indeed tense/violent, but to say all of Zim resembled ‘a war zone’ may not be factual.”
“Sadly, in truth, the credibility problem in Zim media extends beyond state media,” the watchdog added in a tweet.
In the last 16 years, Zimbabwe’s press has been as deeply divided as its political playing field – but it’s normally state media that comes in for criticism for its unashamedly pro-Mugabe line.
Harare – Zimbabwe police on Sunday denied using bullets to disperse protests1 against President Robert Mugabe at the weekend, as activists called for electoral reforms ahead of general elections in 2018.
“For the record, no firearm or live bullets were used in the perceived protests throughout the country,” Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said in a statement.
“As police, we reiterate that anyone who claims that live bullets were fired at protesters should come forward with evidence.”
A coalition of opposition parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) had planned country-wide demonstrations on Saturday demanding reform ahead of the 2018 election when 92-year-old Mugabe plans to stand again.
A month-long protest ban and a massive police deployment, in Harare, however, saw the event fizzle out before it started.
Acts Of Disorderly Conduct
But activists charged the police with intimidation, firing against small groups demonstrating in the suburbs of the capital and arresting close to 100 protesters, a number the police disputed.
Zimbabwe doesn’t have money to pay their employees but for flight tickets to France and to buy live ammunition to butcher their citizens
“Only 21 people were arrested by the Zimbabwe Republic Police throughout the country… for engaging in acts of disorderly conduct of blocking the smooth flow of traffic and intimidating the general public to side with them and partake in illegal activities,” said the police statement.
Nyathi said the arrested activists included members of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) “who were openly agitating for violence”.
Nera on Saturday said about 100 activists were arrested while others were heavily assaulted by law the enforcement agents.
Campaigners said they would challenge the protest ban through the courts, which had overturned a similar order earlier this month.
‘playing a dangerous game’
Things are heating up in #Harare – live ammunition allegedly used (because #Mugabe has run out of teargas?)https://twitter.com/Bulawayo24News/status/777099764873760768 …
Mugabe has vowed a crackdown on dissent and blasted judges for “reckless” rulings allowing previous demonstrations. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party won the last general elections in 2013, which were marred by electoral fraud.
Opposition to the ageing leader’s 36-year rule has grown in recent months with a surge of public demonstrations, triggered by an economic crisis that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay its workers.
Mugabe has often used brutal force to silence his opponents and warned the protesters last week they were “playing a dangerous game”.
Unemployment is about 90% in Zimbabwe, which has been in the grips of a cash shortage worsened by a severe regional drought.
Nera has promised more demonstrations in the coming weeks until the government gives in to their demands.
By News24 Correspondents