Police in Zimbabwe on Friday fired teargas and beat demonstrators who defied a protest ban, as the opposition accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of surpassing Robert Mugabe’s regime in brutality.
Scores of people gathered in a square in the capital Harare to demonstrate against the country’s worsening economy, despite massive police deployment and a ban upheld by a court the same morning.
Police cornered one group of protesters and beat them with batons.One woman was seen being carried into a Red Cross ambulance.
The protesters then regrouped, singing songs condemning police brutality. As the crowd swelled, police fired teargas and water cannons.
“People were just singing… peacefully. Then they saw the police coming — they were encircling people, they were actually surrounding the supporters then they came closer to us and started beating people,” a 35-year-old protester who gave her name as Achise told AFP.
She said police beat “an old woman”.
“This is worse than during colonial times,” said a man who declined to be identified.
Police said in a statement they had arrested 91 people for various offences, but rights groups said there had been 128 arrests.
Dozens of police were deployed in running battles with protesters, many of them from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The protest took place in Africa Unity Square, overlooking the Zimbabwean parliament, is where crowds gathered in November 2017 to demand Mugabe, the country’s long-time autocratic ruler, step down.