Police in Zimbabwe fired tear gas and water cannon on Wednesday at the youths of opposition party Movement for Democratic Change Zimbabwe (MDCZ) during a march in the capital Harare.
The march expected to be peaceful was held ahead of a major demonstration on Friday organized by 18 opposition parties calling on the government to implement electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 polls.
The march turned violent when police fired tear gas at the youths who fought back throwing stones and sling shots forcing businesses to close down, Zimbabwean daily News Day reported.
Peaceful protests are a legal means of removing governments from office, whether they were elected by Nikuv or some dead voters.
Some protesters looted supermarkets and shops while two trucks belonging to State broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the police were reportedly torched, they added.
The MDCZ youth secretary told the newspaper that they were not involved in the looting and destruction of property.
“Some people joined the protest after being tear-gassed by the police and I think that it was just retaliation from angry people, but as MDC we were not part of that,” James Chidhakwa said.
MDCZ youth president, Happymore Chidziva, who led the march had earlier urged the youth to “march to Mugabe’s official residence to pressure him to leave office,” News Day reported.
“Peaceful protests are a legal means of removing governments from office, whether they were elected by Nikuv or some dead voters,” Chidziva added.
Ruling Zanu PF condemned the violence by the protesters calling for decorum and respect of constitutional democracy.
“This barbaric act, masked as revolutionarism, seeks to derail our transformation agenda, and we reject it with the contempt it deserves. We appeal for decorum from all political parties, so that at the end of the day, democracy is the winner,” Zanu PF communications officer Jason Zhuwao said.