Zimbabwean police have dispersed protesters in the capital Harare who are calling for electoral reform ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the youth members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change- Tsvangirai (MDC-T) who had vowed on Tuesday to embark on the demonstration against the country’s electoral commission.
Some people resilient. Tear gas fired, eyes stinging, soaking wet and some still stand in line outside bank. They want their cash #Zimbabwe— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) July 12, 2017
— Protesting Graduate. (@ThembinkosiRush) July 12, 2017
The demonstration is on. This is a demonstration to press on issues of electoral reform. We will be showing our anger on how ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] is delaying the implementation.
😥They’re marking people as if they’re prey. The Zimbabwe police will be hunting citizens exercising their constitutional rights to protest!— Jessie F. Majome (@JessieFMajome) July 12, 2017
The group had informed the police about the demonstration but did not get authorization to proceed.
“The demonstration is on. This is a demonstration to press on issues of electoral reform. We will be showing our anger on how ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] is delaying the implementation,” MDC-T youth president, Happymore Chidziva said earlier.
“This is a march to force ZEC to adhere to constitutionalism, to force the commission to operate independently, to make sure that voter registration centres are distributed fairly and on neutral grounds. We are also making it a point that we demonstrate against structural and physical violence associated with elections as well as calling on ZEC to accept the diaspora vote,” he was quoted by local media News Day.
This is one of the many demonstrations against the Electoral Commission since last year with some ending in violence resulting in the ban on demonstrations in the central business district.
An opposition coalition united under a National Election Reform Agenda (NERA) had held several demonstrations since last year accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of bias in favour of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
ZEC Chairperson Rita Makarau has denied all the allegations as it embarks on dialogue with the political parties.
The issues raised by the opposition include the breach of an initial agreement where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was tasked to procure Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
It also accused the ZEC of unevenly distributing voter registration centres, which the electoral commission denies.