Image: Just meters away from the bond notes demo, riot police jostle with members of the public to buy sadza from a vendor in Harare on Friday. The police were out in huge force, but were relaxed in the face of very little resistance.
A mass demonstration against the looming introduction of bond notes failed to get going on Friday following the abduction and torture of key organisers, and an intimidating police presence on the streets of Harare since Thursday.
Activists and organiser Patson Dzamara and three of his colleagues were among those picked up yesterday evening by Zimbabwe Republic Police and plain-clothed men, allegedly members of the Armed Forces who were carrying AK47 assault rifles. In addition to being severely beaten, two of their private cars were burnt by their kidnappers. Other activists including Sten Zvorwadza managed to escape.
Dzamara, who was dumped out of town, remained in hospital today, whilst a small group of less than twenty protesters, including Zvorwadza, quietly gathered in Africa Unity square. The police, who were out in force with water cannons, troop carriers, on horseback, and on foot, were nonetheless ruthless, arresting no less than eight people. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are attending to the arrested, who are being charged under section 37 of the Criminal Law act: Participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.
This clampdown took place in spite of the a government-gazetted ban on demonstrations expiring on 15 October. Social media has been busy with discussion of why the protest failed.
Updates to follow.