Zimbabwe police abuse mothers and children after protest in shocking video

The video appears to show a violent police response to the hugely-popular #ThisFlag protests – in which activists have committed to take to the street until President Robert Mugabe is removed from power

Andrew Griffin
Sunday 10 July 2016 09:41
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Police in Zimbabwe have been shown attacking mothers and their children in the wake of growing protests in the country.

Videos from the police response to protests against the countries government shows a police chief holding a child while what appears to be its mother is attacked on the floor.

The behaviour shown in the footage has been described as “pure evil” by activists on social media, who claim that the violence shown in the video is illustrative of how high tensions have become in the country.

The #ThisFlag movement – around which the protests shown in the video have been organised – began on social media but has spread quickly across the whole country.

Its organisers have committed to keep protests going until Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is removed from power.

The #ThisFlag movement has been growing in recent months – beginning spontaneously and becoming the biggest uprising against the Mr Mugabe’s rule in almost a decade.

This week, much of the country was shut down by a "stay away" general strike, organised by a social media movement that complains of poor public services, 85 percent unemployment, widespread corruption and delays in getting state salaries.

The unlikely protest leader is a pastor, Evan Mawarire, who launched the movement - #ThisFlag - to get Zimbabweans to rally round the national flag and speak out against Mugabe policies.

He told Reuters the movement had found its voice and was planning more action in the wake of the success of Wednesday's strike, which shut down much of the capital Harare.

"We are getting to a place where we are now expressing that we have had enough. What we are doing is about one action, one voice concerning our frustration. Enough is enough," he said.

The government blames Zimbabwe's precarious financial position on Western sanctions and a slump in prices of its export commodities.

Ignatious Chombo, the ruling ZANU-PF party's administration secretary, blamed Western embassies in Harare and opposition parties late on Wednesday for trying to cause anarchy.

A drought has compounded the hardship, while an acute cash shortage means those lucky enough to get paid are unable to get their hands on any money due to daily withdrawal limits at most banks of as little as $50.

Zimbabweans strike in protest over 'economic collapse'

Central bank plans to circulate local bank notes later this year have caused further anxiety among a population that lost savings and pensions in 2008 when rampant money-printing pushed hyperinflation to more than 500 billion percent.

Zimbabwe last witnessed protests on this scale in April 2007 when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai led anti-Mugabe demonstrations.

Mawarire's #ThisFlag movement says it will hold another strike next week lasting two days if demands are not met, including the sacking of corrupt ministers, the payment of delayed salaries and the lifting of roadblocks that residents say are used by police to extract bribes.

Other social media movements have also appeared, such as Tajamuka - 'We refuse' in Zimbabwe's Shona language - which launched spontaneous demonstrations in the last month.

On Monday, an impromptu protest by taxi drivers turned violent, with rock-throwing young men facing off against squads of riot police firing volleys of tear gas - scenes unseen since a government slum clearance campaign in 2005.

Last week, half a dozen protesters stormed a hotel in downtown Harare protesting against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko's stay there since December 2014, saying this was profligacy by a government which says it has no money.

"Clearly there is a coincidence or intersection of national grievances across the board, economic and political, and the immediate concerns of the public servants," Ibbo Mandaza, a leading academic and political commentator, said.

"That intersection has proved lethal in the last days. We are in a new phase of politics."

Additional reporting by agencies

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