By Evans Muranganwa – Zimbabwe’s capital Harare witnessed clashes between protestors and the police with the latter throwing teargas to disperse the mob .
The protestors under the banner of NERA(National Electoral Reform Agenda)youth forum and MyZimbabwe-a campaign by MDC-T youth assembly were demonstrating against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC) accusing it of putting various mechanisms meant to disenfranchise would-be voters.
The youths started the march early in the morning wielding placards that were inscribed with messages like ‘ZEC Must Fall, ‘We Say No to Piece Meal Reforms, We Demand Adequate Registration Centers, Makarau Must Go,’ Mugabe Must Go Now among many other messages reflecting displeasure on the electoral body’s administration of voter registration and other electoral processes.
The skirmishes saw the protestors trying to picket ZEC offices where they clashed with riot police with the former reiterating by throwing stones at the law enforcement agents. They were also chanting songs denouncing Makarawu. Some shops housed close to the MDC-T headquarters had to be temporarily closed due to the disturbances which saw ordinary citizens being caught up in the melee. Reports say that some journalists including Aljazeera’s correspondent Haru Mutasa were not spared from the spraying from the water canons that were unleashed on the protestors. There are rumors that a few protestors were arrested.
In a statement, the MDC-T youth secretary general Lovemore Chinoputsa bemoaned police’s heavy-handedness on protestors urging police commissioner general Augustine Chihuru to step down.
“The MDC-T youth assembly condemns the excesses of the police on Wednesday where heavily armed police officers brutally crushed our peaceful demonstration in Harare CBD and in the process also harassed journalists covering our demonstration,” said Chinoputsa.
“We hereby call for the immediate resignation of the Police boss who continues to preside over a grouping of people who have no respect for the constitution of the law,” added the MDC-T youth assembly secretary general.
Social media was abuzz today with images of the demonstrators and tear smoke that engulfed the city. The demonstrations comes hard on the heels of ZEC chairman Rita Makarawu that the electoral body will not lose sleep over the opposition demonstrations against electoral reforms but will continue to dialogue with the opposition forces.
The opposition was infuriated by ZEC’s allocation of few registration centers in urban areas where it feels it has it’s strong-hold and the proof of residence required for urban voters which they think is meant to frustrate prospect voters.