HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwe's government on Thursday banned protests in the capital, Harare, for the next two weeks. The ban was announced a day before opposition parties were to hold an anti-government demonstration.
Immediately after the release of the statutory ban, which says anyone who organizes a protest may be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison, opposition parties issued a statement postponing a planned Friday protest by two weeks.
In a telephone interview, Thabitha Khumalo, a leader of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, said her party and others were saddened by the banning of protests in Zimbabwe.
Khumalo said the opposition had no time to challenge the ban before the now-aborted Friday march.
“It is a violation of Zimbabwe's constitution, which gives every Zimbabwean the right to express themselves. Anyway, their ban does not mean they are stopping the wheels of the struggle, because the social and economic problems that are affecting Zimbabweans are still there. It will not create jobs; it will not turn around the economy," she said.
In the past two months, Zimbabwe has been hit by a wave of protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government. Zimbabweans have been calling for the 92-year-old leader to embark on democratic reforms and fix the country's moribund economy or step down.
But police have reacted with a heavy hand to the protests, arresting demonstrators and firing tear gas and water cannons, which has resulted in injuries.