HARARE - Zimbabwe police on Wednesday fired tear gas and water cannons to break up anti-government protests in the capital, Harare, as frustrations grow over a rapidly deteriorating economy.
Police beat up several journalists covering the protests, smashing a video camera and attacking a journalist's car, breaking windows and taking a laptop.
Baton-wielding police moved in as hundreds of activists gathered outside the finance minister's office demanding that he abandons plans to introduce bond notes that will be used alongside the United States dollar. Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 following hyperinflation, adopting a multi-currency system dominated by the dollar.
Another group of protesters, calling themselves unemployed university graduates, were marching to Parliament wearing their graduation gowns. Police maintained a heavy presence downtown.
Street protests have become frequent in this southern African country, which also faces massive unemployment and accusations of corruption. President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, last month said people unhappy with the situation should leave.
"We don't hate you Mr. President, we just love our country,'' one protester's placard read.
Other marchers carried wooden crosses, singing and chanting slogans against alleged corruption, human rights abuses and economic decline.
Some wore the national flag, which has become a symbol of anti-government sentiment in recent months.