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Ten arrested over anthem, flag

POLICE yesterday arrested at least 10 people during the Zimbabwe cricket team’s high-profile second Test match against New Zealand at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Club as spectators sang the national anthem and waved flags in protest against the political and economic situation in the country.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

There were anti-government protests inside and outside the ground, which saw prominent human rights activist Jenni Williams being arrested during the first session of the day.
Williams was denied entry into the ground in the morning and was bundled into a police truck.

Cricket fans hold Zimbabwe national flags on the 36th over during a second Test match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand at Queens Club in Bulawayo yesterday. Picture: Aaron Ufumeli
Cricket fans hold Zimbabwe national flags on the 36th over during a second Test match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand at Queens Club in Bulawayo yesterday. Picture: Aaron Ufumeli

After a struggle, female police officers managed to handcuff her and took her to a police station in the city.

Inside the ground, fans waved the national flag and sang the national anthem during the 36th over to follow a video message posted by exiled Harare pastor Evan Mawarire encouraging Zimbabweans to join the protest.

Mawarire said the 36th over symbolised the number of lost years under President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

One of the coordinators of the unemployed graduates that took part in the protest, Samuel Meso said they were detained by police for several hours and only released following the intervention of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

“We went to Bulawayo with our gowns so that we would watch the cricket match. The place was so militarised and at 36 overs, we stood to sing the national anthem in our gowns as one of our creative protests,” he said.

“At that time ZRP officers came and shoved us out and took us to Bulawayo Central Police Station,” Meso said, adding they were released after about five hours.

ZLHR said Williams and other Woza members had been charged with criminal nuisance.

Meanwhile, former Education minister David Coltart said there were attempts to block him from entering Queens Sports Club.

“Sadly, a whole lot of unemployed graduates and Woza women did not make it as they were arrested for wanting to sing the national anthem,” he tweeted yesterday.

“Ironic that having persuaded New Zealand to play Test cricket against Zimbabwe again in 2010 as Minister of Sport, today a ZC [Zimbabwe Cricket] official and the police did their best to hinder me from entering the ground.”

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