Zim calls off protests after court ban

Armed police formed barricades around Harare on Friday.

19 August 2019 | Economics

The fascist regime has denied the right for Zimbabweans to demonstrate. - Tendai Biti, VP: MDC

Harare - Opposition mass protests against deepening economic problems in Zimbabwe were called off on Friday after a court upheld an 11th hour ban imposed by the police.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had vowed to launch protests marches on Friday against the worsening economy, despite government threats to stop them.

Late on Thursday police said the protests had been banned.

The MDC went to court in the early hours of Friday to challenge the ban, but lost the case.

"The court has said the demonstration should be off," MDC spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda told AFP.

The party's vice president Tendai Biti told reporters outside the high court that "we differ respectfully with the ruling".

"The fascist regime has denied the right for Zimbabweans to demonstrate," said Biti.

He added that even if they had won "this march was not going to take place because the city has been cordoned off" by police.

Armed police formed barricades around the city on Friday, turning back cars on streets leading to the MDC's party headquarters, with road blocks also set up elsewhere in the capital.

Stopped, searched

Long queues of traffic formed as the police searched cars and commuter buses for weapons.

Teams of riot police also carried out patrols and randomly stopped and searched pedestrians.

The planned protests would have been the first since rallies in January against president Emmerson Mnangagwa's decision to hike fuel prices that ended in deadly clashes with troops.

As the Zimbabwean economy deteriorates, people are facing shortages of basic goods and skyrocketing prices.

Around five million people - almost a third of the country's 16 million population - are in need of aid and at least half of them are on the cusp of "starvation", the World Food Programme (WFP) said earlier this month. – nampa/AFP

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