A grouping of more than 20 opposition political parties in Zimbabwe under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) said Friday it will not be cowed by police brutality.
The vowed to hold another demonstration next Friday after police crashed their sanctioned demonstration to demand a level electoral playing field.
Speaking at a hastily organised press conference in Harare following skirmishes that saw protesters engaging in running battles with the police and burning down targeted properties in the city centre, Nera Convener, Dydimus Mutasa said the opposition parties, who have also agreed to form a grand coalition to fight Zanu PF, will now demand early elections.
“If what the police did was to cow us from holding demonstrations, then the opposite has been the case. We are going next Friday to do the same — request another opportunity to demonstrate here in Harare and if thwarted, our demonstration capacity will be on standby. It is not just us the political parties here, but the whole of Zimbabwe saying this is the Zimbabwe we want,” Mutasa said.
He said the planned demonstration next Friday will repeat the same message on a peaceful transformation through early elections.
Mutasa said despite the High Court giving a very specific order allowing them to march peacefully and present their petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from noon to 4pm, the police started violence against the peaceful people who had gathered at Freedom Square.
He said the court order specifically barred the police from interfering, distracting or stop the march in the routes that were stated.
The police had to facilitate peace while the demonstration took place. Mutasa said they would go back to the court to complain about the police defiance of the court order.
“The most proper route just the authorities did not see what happened today is for us to go and complain that what they ordered has not been observed by the police,” he said.
The former Zanu PF politburo member appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure that the Zimbabwean issue was taken very seriously at its forthcoming meeting in Swaziland.
“We will also be going to the African Union and the United Nations because we have had enough of Zanu PF misrule,” he said.
Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai said it was unfortunate that the behaviour of the police had led to innocent people being trapped in the skirmishes. He said that three demonstrators were kidnapped by some Zanu PF supporters and had been taken hostage at Zanu PF headquarters.
He said Nera was not accountable for the chaos that happened as it had occurred outside of their routes after the police indiscriminately started beating up people.
Tsvangirai said the people’s anger had become very deep and they were now showing their desperation.
“I think it must not relent because it must continue to expose the level of anger that Zimbabweans have and I am glad that Zimbabweans are beginning to say enough is enough,” he said.
People First President, Joice Mujuru said people had been bottling their anger for a long time and should not be blamed for letting out now.
“People have been whispering their anger and nobody has been listening to them. Now we will have to wait until voting day and see the result of that anger,” she said.
Mujuru also reported that more than 50 people had been taken to a local violence victim’s clinic for treatment after they were attacked by the police