Security forces were deployed en masse to Masvingo (Masvingo province) on Wednesday, August 21, to put a halt to a planned anti-government demonstration. Security forces are also expected to deploy to Mutare (Manicaland province) to enforce the government's ban on a demonstration planned for Thursday, August 22. The protests were organized by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of repression and economic mismanagement. Authorities cited security concerns as the basis for the ban. There were no reports of violence or casualties on Wednesday.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in Masvingo and Mutare over the coming hours and days. Similar protests are possible nationwide over the near term.
Security forces notably used tear gas to disperse a demonstration held in the capital Harare on August 16 after protesters defied a police ban. The MDC appealed the ban, but judges dismissed the challenge.
The MDC aimed at holding a mass rally to denounce the perceived corruption of government, as well as high unemployment rates, and a deteriorating economy. Opposition supporters are also calling for the release of six political activists who were allegedly abducted from their homes earlier in the week. Human rights groups accused government security agents of detaining and beating the activists ahead of the August 16 protest.
Individuals in Masvingo and Mutare are advised to monitor the situation, avoid any related public demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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