Police, soldiers deploy in force to suppress MDC protests in Bulawayo

Police officers patrol near Tredgold Magistrates courts on 19 August 2019 in Bulawayo Zimbabwe

Police officers patrol near Tredgold Magistrates courts on 19 August 2019 in Bulawayo Zimbabwe

In a similar show of force in Bulawayo, an MDC heartland, authorities prohibited the march on Sunday and on Monday sent soldiers in trucks into the centre of the city and nearby townships, bolstering police who patrolled on foot and lorries, witnesses said.

A Zimbabwe court on Monday dismissed a challenge by the main opposition party over a police ban on planned protests in the country's second largest city, Bulawayo.

Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate Tinashe Tashaya has finally delivered his ruling following an appeal made by the opposition MDC in which it challenged a "prohibition order" issued by the ZRP banning a protest by the opposition.

The MDC, which accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of repression and mismanagement, called for the protests over the country's worst economic crisis in a decade.

Prior to the High Court decision, a congregation of the Bulawayo community comprising business, the church and residents had filed an urgent chamber application citing previous violent incidents and looting sprees as the reason why they did not want the demonstration to be held.

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Those deaths undermined a pledge by Mnangagwa to put an end to the repressive political climate that characterised much of his predecessor Robert Mugabe's 37 years in power.

In January, more than a dozen people were killed during a crackdown in Harare against fuel demonstrations.

MDC lawmaker Innocent Gonese told reporters that the party disagreed with the two court rulings but would press ahead with protests in three other smaller cities starting Tuesday.

The 76-year-old Mnangagwa is also struggling to convince the growing ranks of poor that austerity measures and reforms can trigger a recovery, as anger mounts over triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of US dollars, fuel and bread.

The latest developments in Zimbabwe come on the back of appeals by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to have the U.S. and European Union drop sanctions against the country.

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