Pressure mounted on President Robert Mugabe to step down yesterday after hundreds of women took to Bulawayo’s streets protesting against his rule.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The demonstration organised by MDC-T and led by the party’s vice-president Thokozani Khupe was dubbed #beatthepot, to dramatise the hunger stalking millions of Zimbabweans.
Khupe said Mugabe’s rule was nearing an end as they would not stop the protests until he resigned.
“These pots that we are beating are no longer cooking anything at home, this is why we brought them to say we no longer have anything to cook. We are starving,” she told the women who took part in the march
“What we are saying here is we are putting more fire on a pot that is already boiling. We want that pot to boil until Mugabe goes.
“That is why we are saying please Mugabe you have failed, please go so that our lives can go on well.”
The former deputy prime minister said it was time the international community intervened in Zimbabwe to end the people’s suffering.
“Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF must step aside and allow a government that will be ushered in through free, fair credible elections,” said Khupe, who had a baby strapped on her back.
“We are going to repeat more of these [protests] until Mugabe leaves office, until the people of Zimbabwe are free. Enough is enough.”
The protestors gathered in the central business district before they marched peacefully while singing and beating pots with wooden and steel cooking utensils.
Police had tried to block the protests but they were overruled by the High Court.
Meanwhile, business came to halt for close to an hour after riot police descended heavily on MDC-T supporters who were holding a peaceful demonstration in Kwekwe’s central business district yesterday.
The residents were protesting against Mugabe’s rule.
Police in riot gear pounced on the MDC-T supporters as they were heading to the commuter omnibus terminus after marching along Robert Mugabe Way and Nelson Mandela Street.
Earlier in the week, MDC-T national youth chairman, Happymore Chidziva had said that the Kwekwe protest had come at an opportune time to address the problems affecting the people.
“In Kwekwe, we are going to hold a demonstration to register discontent on how the government is running down the country. As MDC-T youths, we are participating in a programme of action which is aimed at freeing Zimbabwe,” he said.
A 60-year old vendor who declined to be named for fear of victimisation said she lost goods worth $150 in the melee.
The vendor said she lost packs of potatoes, apples and tomatoes, among other edible products.
“I was caught unaware in the political melee. I do not care about politics anymore and as a widow, I have lost my goods that help sustain my family,” she said.
“It’s going to be difficult for me to start all over again as I have no one to turn to,” she added in-between sobs.
Councillor for Ward 1 in Mbizo, Bekezela Ndlovu lashed out at the way police are operating, accusing the law enforcement agents of causing the commotion that ensued.
“Our supporters were marching peacefully as this demonstration had been cleared by police. It is time that Zimbabweans act because crushing a peaceful demonstration in such a manner using teargas and water cannons is cruelty, worse still against poor people,” he said.
He added: “MDC-T members were marching peacefully but I suspect that the Zanu PF members who were gathered at their party office went into the streets pretending to be part of us but acting in a violent manner, the police had to stop them and this triggered the violence. MDC-T members were not affected.”
At the time of going to print, Kwekwe’s deputy mayor Aaron Sithole (MDC- T) had been picked by police for questioning.
While the police were engaged in running battles with the protestors in Kwekwe, MDC-T supporters were also protesting in Chitungwiza against Mugabe’s alleged misrule.
Similar protests also took place in the United Kingdom and Australia.
This follows a call by the MDC-T for Zimbabweans to go into the streets to register their discontent against rising unemployment, poverty, economic meltdown and misrule by the ruling Zanu PF regime.
In the past fortnight Zimbabweans have been taking to the streets at home and abroad to demonstrate against Mugabe’s failed policies.