Police disperse protesters in Zimbabwe

Police have used batons and fired tear tear gas to break up an anti-government march in Zimbabwe’s capital, the latest public protest against President Robert Mugabe’s government over the country’s economic crisis and alleged corruption.

Hundreds of activists on Wednesday gathered outside the finance minister’s office demanding that he abandons plans to introduce local bank notes that will be used alongside the United States dollar, a currency that authorities are facing a serious shortage of.

Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 following hyperinflation, adopting a multi-currency system dominated by the dollar.

“We don’t want bond notes because they will wipe out the few US dollars left. They have come to destroy the country. We do not want them,” said protester Wesley Chawada.

Former vice president Joice Mujuru on Tuesday launched a Constitutional Court challenge against the planned introduction of the bond notes saying it was unconstitutional.

Another group of protesters, calling themselves unemployed university graduates, were marching to parliament wearing their graduation gowns.

Police reportedly used their batons to beat protesters approaching the parliament building.

Police also beat up several journalists covering the protests, smashing a video camera and attacking a journalist’s car, breaking windows and taking a laptop.

Mugabe, 92, and in power since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, is increasingly under pressure from opponents, as well as his war veterans allies, who last month rebuked him as a manipulative dictator, calling on him to step down.

Street protests have become a near-daily occurrence in the southern African country, which also faces massive unemployment and accusations of corruption. Mugabe last month said people unhappy with the situation should leave.

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Demonstrators denounced Mugabe, accusing his ruling ZANU-PF party of failing to create up to 2.2 million jobs that it had promised when campaigning during the 2013 presidential vote, which Mugabe won amid opposition charges of rigging.

“Mugabe just quit, I will forgive you”, read one placard, while another said “No to police state, you have failed Mr Mugabe.”

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