Harare: Zimbabwe is on a knife edge, as protests in the city center of the country’s capital have turned violent with protesters targeting vehicles belonging to the Police and the state broadcaster, ZBC. Shops belonging to Vice President Phlekezela Mphoko were targeted, looted, and ransacked as well.
The violence broke out after police allegedly tried to disrupt a demonstration planned by opposition parties and civil society.
The police are reported to have approached protesters with a heavy hand, but met massive resistance and were overpowered.
Protesters stormed Choppies Supermarket, a shop owned by the Vice President of the country, Phelekezela Mphoko, who has been the target of protests before after going for 2 years living in a hotel on tax payer money.
They stormed the shop in song and dance, demanding that Zanu PF government shut up shot and quit their role in leadership.
Violence soon broke out in several other places, spreading from the City Center to Bus Terminuses towards the exits as well as CBD outskirts.
Areas around Jason Moyo Avenue and Julius Nyerere were completely thick in tear smoke, while Market Square, and Fly Over areas had heavy police presence and running battles.
The protests are aimed at Robert Mugabe and his government, as Zimbabwe slips into a failed state for the second time in less than a decade.
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15:10 – A ZBC vehicle has been set on fire in Harare, close to the city council building across Joina City by protesters and rioters.
15:18 – Most shops and businesses have shut up shot as the demo in Harare has turned violent. Protesters have besieged Choppies Supermarket, owned by Vice President Mphoko. They are demanding that Zanu PF relinquish power.
15:20 – The unrest has spread from the CBD, our correspondents reporting that tear smoke has been fired at protesters at Market Square, Fly Over, First Street, Joina City, and towards 4th street terminus.
15:46 – Journalist Lucy Yassin beaten up by police while covering the demonstration.
16:00 – Shops smashed and looted. Harare covered in smoke from burning cars and tear gas canisters. Police descending heavily on protesters.
16:01 – Confirmed, police car set on fire.
16:30 – Leeya Brothers Computer shop looted.
17:00 – Several shops looted, entire city covered in smoke.
17:05 – Reports that live ammunition was used. Unconfirmed at this point.
17:46 – Contrary to reports, there is still massive chaos in Harare CBD and some parts. The violence seems to be getting intense in some places. The likelihood of lives being lost is high.
18:20 – As darkness falls, police are still roaming the streets and brutalizing whatever and whoever they can find. Rioters are now using the cover of darkness to retaliate and are breaking windows and looting shops.
Updated feed courtesy of local correspondents.
Below are images from the protests.
Harare Burns (Pictures)
More pictures (Update)