June 11, 2007

Police arrests during protests against economic hardships

Zimbabwean police have arrested more than 150 people in rural Matabeleland South during a protest march against the ongoing economic hardships. About 500 demonstrators carrying placards and chanting anti-government slogans at Filabusi, about 100km southeast of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, were confronted by heavily armed police officers.

The protest march, organised by the women's movement, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), said its members were demanding "social justice, and that government rein in corruption and act on the crumbling economy, which has reduced millions of our people to virtual beggars". According to some demonstrators the protest had been against the government's failure to deal with the more than 3.700 pecent annual inflation rate, the highest in the world.

Police arrested the protesters for contravening the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which prohibits all demonstrations not sanctioned by the police, although analysts said the tough security legislation was being used to crack down on any dissent directed against Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF government. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests and said police would not tolerate any activities threatening national security. (Rts)

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