Zimbabwe President gives thump-up to opposition protest

Legal royalty … Chivayo meeting top lawyers Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in Johannesburg this week

Legal royalty … Chivayo meeting top lawyers Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in Johannesburg this week

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader said his Movement for Democratic Change party backed down from a planned protest on Friday to avoid bloodshed and would change tactics in confronting what it called a "fascist" government.

The court rejected the application from the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, to declare the planned protest action to be legal.

Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPAThe government had moved to block the demonstration with a prohibition order imposed late on Thursday. The High Court ruled against the holding of the demonstration but the MDC-Alliance activists went on to gather at Africa Unity Square and other parts of Harare central business district in defiance of the court ruling.

"I left my vehicle at home because I belong to the party that organised this demo, so I have to participate, prohibition order or not", said Isaac Zibagwe, a 28 year old lawyer who arrived at the square shortly before police moved in.

"We not only have an illegitimate regime in this country, we have a rogue regime", Chamisa said.

Police violently dispersed the crowds, with witnesses reporting protestors beaten and loaded into armoured vehicles while tear gas was sacked into crowds.

The MDC has said it has given the authorities assurances the protests will be peaceful.

In recent months millions have been hit by soaring prices of food and fuel, while foreign exchange shortages have led to a lack of vital medicines and other goods. "Police reiterates that security services will not fold hands and allow violence, destruction of property, intimidation, threats and clandestine night acts of violent agitation to take centre stage", he said.

"We are exhausted, enough is enough", MDC member Patience Gurure said moments before police dispersed her group.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reported to have granted permission for the opposition MDC to hold its protests in the Harare CBD tomorrow.

The ZANU PF league's provincial members met to map the way forward on how to counter the demonstrations by protesters who are irked by the current economic crisis, which has resulted in the majority of citizens facing survival challenges.

"We have also noted with concern falsehoods by some online publications that the police shot into the crowd, killing two people which is false". The cost of living has soared exponentially.

A prominent Zimbabwean musician and entrepreneur, Flint Bedrock, told Express.co.uk of "horrifying" scenes. "We're back into hyperinflation".

The president who is also the head of state as said the demonstration will go on with no disturbances from the security forces unless there in need for involvement.

"The court has said the demonstration should be off", MDC spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of 21 human rights groups, on Thursday said six opposition and rights activists had been abducted and tortured by unidentified assailants ahead of the demonstration.

Supported by the military, Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe before winning disputed elections in July 2018.

European and USA officials are hoping that political reforms will accompany efforts to refloat Zimbabwe's economy.

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