Mugabe panics as soldiers rampage

Uniformed soldiers on Friday night emptied Harare’s night clubs and ruthlessly attacked people on the streets after police triggered violent protests in the capital earlier in the day as President Robert Mugabe’s government fought to suppress dissent against his rule.

By Everson Mushava

Zimbabwe’s 18 opposition parties including former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First and MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai had obtained a High Court order barring police from interfering with their intended demonstration.

The parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) and Coalition for Democrats wanted to protest against unfair electoral laws and systems, but were violently blocked by the police; minutes after the High Court had okayed the event.

The situation turned violent and for close to 12 hours, police were engaged in running battles with protestors in the central business district. Th protesters were angered by the police provocation. Some ran amok, looting shops, smashing cars and setting property ablaze.