28 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Battered MDC-T Youths Vow More Job Protests

Photo: Nehanda Radio
MDC-T supporters (file photo).

OPPOSITION MDC-T youths on Thursday vowed to press on with more street protests to demand jobs a day after anti-riot police violently put down a similar demonstration in Harare.

The threat to take to the streets could set the Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition party on a collision path with President Robert Mugabe's government which has in the past violently crushed street protests.

Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com on Thursday, the party's youth assembly spokesman, Clifford Hlatshwayo, said demonstrations were a constitutional right adding they are determined to assert that right.

"Section 59 of the constitution gives us the right to demonstrate and to petition peacefully and we are doing that. What we are doing is within the confines of our own constitution," he said.

"We will engage the government in a non-violent manner and we will stage massive, peaceful demonstrations across the country."

Hlatshwayo said the youths are not going to be intimidated by threats of violence by Zanu PF party.

He said Mugabe's Zanu PF which won an overwhelming majority in last July's elections on the back of promises to create 2.2 million jobs over the next five years was clueless on how to resolve the current economic problems.

"We know very well that Zanu PF is clueless in terms of setting an agenda, in terms of coming out with a panacea to deal with the contemporary and current problems bedevilling our country," he said.

"So Zanu PF, in its clueless manner, it then resorts to brutality, unconstitutionalism, where it arrests people who are pushing constitutional matters of employment creation.

"They are afraid of the people of Zimbabwe, of dealing with the demands of the people of Zimbabwe. Our demands are just and legitimate."

Dozens of MDC-T party youths were beaten up by anti-riot police Wednesday when they marched in the city centre to present a petition which called on parliament to champion the creation of jobs for youths through laws and similar initiatives.

MDC-T spokesperson for Harare province, Obert Gutu, who described the police action Wednesday as "satanic", placed the number of those injured at more than 18.

He added: "Eve Nyamadzawo, the MDC-T Harare youth assembly secretary for constitutional affairs has been badly hurt with several broken ribs and she has since been taken to Avenues clinic."

Gutu said another youth official, Albert Chidhakwa, sustained a deep cut on the head and had also since received eight stitches after he was struck with a baton stick.

"This level of fascist police brutality can easily be equated to the barbarism and savagery of Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in Syria and Iraq," Gutu said.

Wednesday's demonstration by the MDC-T youths followed a similar protest last week which saw half a dozen party activists arrested and beaten up for embarking on an unsanctioned march.

Tsvangirai last week painted a grim picture of the country's current economic situation and pledged a massive jobs campaign by his party aimed at exerting pressure on the Zanu PF-led government to deliver on its promised 2.2 million jobs.

"We in the MDC shall no longer watch the situation continue to slide," Tsvangirai said.

"We are drawing a line in the sand and we shall pressurise and mobilise the people because those who claim to be in charge have not demonstrated any desire and commitment to solve the pressing national issues. They have become by-standers while the country burns," he said.

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