Police ban another protest over economic woes in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean police on Sunday banned a planned march by the main opposition in the second city of Bulawayo, days after brutally dispersing protesters who defied a similar order in the capital.

“A prohibition order has been issued in Bulawayo today due to security concerns,” police spokesperson Paul Nyathi told reporters.

“Various business groups had also appealed to the high court not to allow the march to proceed as a number of these organizations lost their properties in January when similar protests were held.”

Monday’s now-banned protests, organized by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were over worsening economic conditions and the jailing of Chief Ndiweni, a known critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Police imposed a similar protest ban last week after the MDC called for protests beginning in the capital Harare over the government’s handling of the economy.

The MDC challenged the ban in the high court early Friday but the courts upheld the order.

Scores of protesters, many of them from the MDC, defied the ban and gathered in a square where the march was supposed to start.

Several demonstrators were injured when anti-riot police used batons, whips, and teargas to disperse the protesters.

Friday’s protests were the first since Mnangagwa’s decision to hike fuel prices by more than 100 percent sparked nationwide demonstrations which left at least 17 people dead and several injured when soldiers opened fire.

Mnangagwa who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe went on to win disputed elections in July last year vowing to revive the economy.

But Zimbabweans say things have gone from bad to worse with shortages of bread, fuel, medical drugs, and other goods and the skyrocketing cost of living.

According to the UN, about five million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid.

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