Police used sticks to beat women in southern Zimbabwe who were urging politicians to resolve their differences and turn their attention to their suffering people, organizers of today’s demonstration said.
The police could not be reached for comment
While the demonstrators rallied in the city of Bulawayo, President Robert Mugabe and his chief political rivals were in their third day of talks aimed at saving a power-sharing deal signed a month ago. The opposition says the deal is threatened by Mugabes insistence on keeping the most powerful Cabinet posts.
The stalemate over Cabinet posts has left Zimbabwe rudderless as its economy deteriorates. Inflation is 231 million percent. Food, medicine and most other basic goods are scarce. The U.N. estimates 45 percent of Zimbabwe’s population, or 5.1 million people, will need food help by early 2009.
The Bulawayo demonstrators were carrying a statement from the civil rights group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, accusing politicians of offering empty promises in their Sept. 15 agreement.
“How many more Zimbabweans must die before you act?” the statement said. “This is a national disaster and we demand food for all Zimbabweans now.”
The group said in a later statement that as about 200 of its members sat outside local government offices waiting for officials to come and hear their demands, riot police arrived and arrested two of its leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, and dispersed the other protesters by beating them with sticks. The women’s group said at least one protester required medical attention.
Repeated attempts to reach the national police spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.
via LA Times: Protesters beaten in southern Zimbabwe