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Zimbabwe police fire teargas to disperse protest

25 August 2016, 07:36

Harare - Zimbabwe police on Wednesday fired teargas and water cannon and beat up opposition activists protesting against police brutality, witnesses said.

According to an AFP photographer at the scene, around 200 supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) clashed with police who tried to stop the march.

"Violence broke out when people retaliated to police beatings by throwing stones at riot police," said an eyewitness who did not want to be named.

"I saw police beating protesters and firing teargas and water canons."

An AFP photographer saw two police cars being torched.

Another car belonging to the national broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, was also burned.

Increase in violent protests 

Police in Zimbabwe often use force to break up protests, beating up civilians and journalists covering demonstrations.

On Wednesday, one journalist was injured after being beaten up by police.

Zimbabwe has seen an increase in violent protests over the past weeks, with demonstrators calling on veteran President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has overseen an economic collapse that has caused food and cash shortages, with the country battling to pay public servants.

A major strike last month spearheaded by an online "ThisFlag" movement led by pastor Evan Mawarire shut down businesses, as protesters voice anger of the economic crisis.

On Wednesday, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported that 8000 jobs would be cut in the agriculture ministry, alongside a freeze in recruitment and promotions of government employees.

The lay-offs are like to fuel discontent among a population battling high unemployment and poverty.

Zimbabwe spends at least 80 percent of its revenues on state workers' wages, according to officials, while about 90 percent of the population has no formal employment.



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