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Zimbabwean Authorities Arrest Dozens More After Failed Protests


Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested dozens more people throughout the country following Wednesday's failed anti-government protests.

Police in Harare Thursday arrested people who were milling around several places where members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had intended to march.

The ZCTU says authorities have arrested some 270 union officials and protesters in all.

Senior officials from the trade union congress are being arraigned in a Harare magistrate's court Thursday. Union representatives say the group's president and secretary-general have been severely beaten and are being denied medical treatment.

In an interview with VOA, Zimbabwe's Acting Information Minister Paul Mangwana responded to the allegation, saying you disperse illegal demonstrations with baton sticks, not whistles.

The government declared Wednesday's planned marches illegal ahead of time, and placed heavy security on the streets to prevent any protests from starting.

The union had planned marches in cities across Zimbabwe to protest low wages, high taxes and workers' lack of access to anti-retroviral drugs that fight AIDS.

The unions are allied with Zimbabwe's splintered opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Earlier this year, the party issued its own call for anti-government protests that have yet to materialize.

Zimbabwe is reeling from the effects of high inflation, record unemployment and severe shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. The nation's agriculture-based economy has been in a freefall since the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms beginning in 2000.

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