Opposition officials in Zimbabwe say several activists were either abducted or arrested Friday ahead of a planned protest over the introduction of controversial bond notes.
By late Friday some activists could not be located. Police moved in large numbers to the venue of the protest against the bond notes President Robert Mugabe’s government wants to introduce this month to ease the country's cash shortages.
Two vehicles were burnt early Friday that were carrying activists coordinating the protests. Patson Dzamara, an activist who was abducted and later released, said the assailants took him into their vehicle and later dropped him naked in some bushes after assaulting him. Speaking on his hospital bed to reporters, he said he suspected state security agents were behind the incident.
“It was not an easy and palatable experience," said Dzamara . "However, I am not at all discouraged by what happened today. That is not going to deter and discourage me from fighting for a better Zimbabwe. I can sacrifice all those things (burnt cars) for as long as it is for a better Zimbabwe. I know that one day we are going to welcome a new and better Zimbabwe. And these are some of the prices we are having to pay."
Zimbabwe's political opposition accuse the Mugabe government of failing to end corruption and the abuse of human rights. Opposition leaders say the central bank's introduction of new the bond notes will not deal with such issues, but will instead plunge the nation back to the days of hyperinflation and shortages, when Zimbabwe's currency became essentially worthless.
Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in February, 2009 amid hyperinflation. Since then, it has been using all major foreign currencies, but mostly the U.S. dollar.
The government says the new bond notes, which will trade at par with the U.S. dollar, would ease cash shortages and stop smuggling of foreign currency out of the country.
The government has since said it will go ahead with introducing bond notes despite threats of protests like the one which had been set for this Friday.