PROTESTS WILL ALSO BENEFIT POLICE :MUJURU | Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader Joice Mujuru has urged police to refrain from attacking protestors warning that brutalising them is self-defeating because the current protests are also meant to improve the livelihoods of impoverished police officers across the country.


Mujuru made this appeal as opposition political parties prepare to demonstrate in Harare tomorrow against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and delayed electoral reforms.“With respect, we urge the police to note that the people they are brutalising are also fighting for their cause,” Mujuru said yesterday in a statement.“The police are also affected by late payment of their meagre salaries. The police need decent transport and accommodation facilities. The police also need to eat and pay school
fees for their children.

“The police stay with people; and they are also human beings. They also need to pay their rentals in time,” she added.Last Friday, police bludgeoned hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Harare under the auspices of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a grouping of 18 opposition political parties that had planned to demonstrate against the Zec secretariat on outstanding electoral reforms.

Even after the High Court had ruled that the protest march could go ahead, riot police — backed by armoured trucks and water cannons — indiscriminately fired volleys of teargas at all and sundry, battering and chasing groups of determined opposition supporters.

Mujuru yesterday said the parties will go ahead with the demonstration, warning President Robert Mugabe that no amount of repression would stop people from fighting for their rights.“Zimbabweans demand electoral reforms and hence the need for an even electoral play field. Zimbabweans demand the removal of SI 64 that is impacting negatively on their livelihoods. Zimbabweans say no to the introduction of bond notes that seek to completely erode our dignity and integrity as a people,” said Mujuru.

“We urge Zimbabweans to remain resolute for their noble cause. We urge our supporters to remain calm and exercise maximum restraint in the face of provocation, coercion and brutality.

“We urge all peace loving Zimbabweans to respect other people’s rights and properties as we march through this difficult journey to liberate ourselves, and for together another Zimbabwe is possible,” added Mujuru.

Last Friday’s protest march, which the opposition wanted to use to press for much-needed electoral reforms ahead of Zimbabwe’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, prompted nervous authorities to place the entire capital city under a virtual lockdown.

Many people going about their daily chores, including journalists covering the chaos and children who were going to the nearby Harare Agricultural Show, were caught up in the resultant mayhem, as the mad-as-hell riot police pursued and savaged anything and everything on two legs.

Mugabe in power since 1980, is facing the biggest challenge to his rule as the economic meltdown and corruption have given rise to dissent.In July riots also broke out in the border town of Beitbridge when angry traders protested against the government’s ill-advised decision to ban the importation of basic consumer goods.

More than 70 people were arrested in the aftermath of those riots which destroyed property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including the burning of a warehouse belonging to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

The riots later spread to Harare where police once again used force to break a demonstration called by commuter omnibus drivers and touts to protest too many police roadblocks on the roads which they said had become extortionate.