HARARE – Zimbabwe police with batons and dogs arrested scores of demonstrators on Tuesday, breaking up a march by the country’s main labour union to protest against rising poverty, witnesses said.
Dozens of protesters had assembled for the start of the march in the centr
al business district of the capital Harare when police moved in and piled about 50 of them in a truck, Reuters witnesses said.
A handful of protesters broke away from the main group and tried to start another march from a nearby street but were chased down by police, who arrested five of them.
The protesters were obeying a call of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), an ally of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which has offered the stiffest challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party as the country grapples with a worsening economic crisis.
The marchers sang songs and waved tiny placards before police moved in. Journalists watched from a safe distance for fear of arrest under Zimbabwe’s draconian press laws.
“Those arrested continued to sing in the police van as it drove off,” a witness said.
Other protesters who assembled in another part of the city also dispersed quietly following the police intervention, witnesses said.
The ZCTU had urged workers to stage processions country-wide at midday “to remind government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired”.
Organisers of the Harare march had intended to present a petition to the labour ministry.
The situation in other cities was not immediately clear. — Reuter