Anti-riot police, Friday cracked down on protesters in Harare who defied a court order barring the planned Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) demonstration.
Earlier, in the morning police cordoned off all the major roads leading to the city centre and there was heavy police presence at the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House and at the Africa Unity Square.
The decision banning the demonstration was made by Justice Joseph Musakwa at Harare High Court around 7am.
However, this ruling did not deter MDC protestors who took to the streets to march against the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
Footage that has gone viral showed tense confrontations as police details beat up protesters with some of them sustaining serious injuries.
One woman was left unconscious and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services confirmed the incident on its twitter page.
“An unidentified woman was injured during a stampede at the corner of Jason Moyo and Sam Nujoma Roads when the Police tried to disperse an illegal demonstration. The woman was taken to hospital and efforts are underway to establish her condition.”
The footage also showed scuffles breaking out, and some of the protesters who had been apprehended being assaulted with batons.
Security forces also used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
After the MDC emerged from court, party vice president Tendai Biti flanked by party’s spokesman Daniel Molokele and their legal secretary Innocent Gonese claimed the judgement was riddled with political interference.
The opposition said it would proceed with preparations for its intended marches in Bulawayo on Monday.
Other marches are to be held in Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare, the following days.
Biti said the judgment reflected the “true colour of the so-called ‘new dispensation’”
“We argued very strongly that the issuance of the prohibition order was unlawful. The prohibition order in terms of Section 26 of POSA has to be made within seven days from the day that notification (to stage demonstrations) is given. Notification was given on August 5, 2019, so therefore the seven days would have expired on August 12. The prohibition order was only issued at 9pm last night on August 15, 2019,” he said.
The party was told to appeal at the Magistrates Court but Biti said they would not do so.
“The High Court is a court of original and superior jurisdiction, this is our home, it’s supposed to effect our rights. We differ respectfully with the ruling of the High Court. We will not appeal to the Magistrate’s Court because we do not accept the correctness, with great respect, the ruling of the High Court of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Molokele added that the decision by the courts turned the march into a “state-administered stay-away.”
“So I think in Harare today it’s a state-funded, state-administered stay-away. Stay at home and be safe but we are going to continue with the process of making sure we organise something more in Harare but for next week we are proceeding with Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo,” he said.
“The people of Zimbabwe must stand up and make sure that their future is guaranteed through their own personal actions. At this moment in time, as the leadership we are saying we are not backing down, the struggle will continue.”