In a show of force to discourage anti-government protests, Zimbabwe police with water cannons patrolled the capital’s streets and warned residents “you will rot in jail” if they participate in the demonstrations planned for today.
Six anti-government activists have been abducted and tortured this week ahead of the protests, as tensions rise over Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic conditions, according to human rights groups.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged the opposition to engage in dialogue, but at the same time his government is pushing for parliament to quickly adopt new security legislation criticized as repressive.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party said it will roll out “peaceful” protests starting this week to try to force Mnangagwa to set up a transitional authority to address economic problems and organize credible elections. The protests will spread to other cities next week, the opposition said.
Teams of police officers searched vehicles at checkpoints on roads leading into the city. Police said the protests are likely to be violent, and warned people to stay away. “Do not take part, you will rot in jail,” shouted police officers using megaphones in downtown Harare and some residential areas.