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Police break up bank protest in Zimbabwe

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Police break up bank protest in Zimbabwe

Our message to Mugabe, Chinamasa and Mangudya is that we don't want those bondnotes

Promise Mkwananzi leader of "Tajamuka"

Police in Zimbabwe have broken up a protest against plans by the government and central bank to re-introduce local banknotes in Harare.

Around 100 protesters, most of them holding flowers, set out to march through the streets of the capital.

They sang songs denouncing:

  • President Robert Mugabe
  • Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa
  • Central Bank Governor John Mangudya
  • They have all backed the measure.

    Several protesters set Zimbabwean cheques on fire.

    What did the police do?

    The protesters were stopped and dispersed by riot police.

    Some tried to give police flowers but the officers remained impassive.

    A Reuters witness says tear gas and water cannon were used.

    Why were they protesting?

    Zimbabweans fear the central bank’s plan to introduce bank notes or “bond notes” in October to ease the dollar shortage could open the door to rampant money printing.

    This happened in 2008.

    Inflation hit 500 billion percent and wiped out people’s pensions and savings.

    Are protests commonplace in Zimbabwe?

    At the moment, yes.

    In the last few months, there have been almost weekly protests against economic hardship.

    Some have ended in clashes with police.

    There have been movements such as:

  • #ThisFlag
  • #Tajamuka (slang in Shona language for “defiance”
  • They have used Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to rally Zimbabweans against the leadership of the 92-year-old Mugabe.

    His government is being blamed for the economic problems.

    What has the government said?

    In June, President Robert Mugabe defended the introduction of local banknotes.

    He called them “surrogate currency” that would discourage criminals from coming to Zimbabwe to “fish” for dollars.

    What they are saying

    “We know what happens when the central bank prints money. Our message to Mugabe, Chinamasa and Mangudya is that we don’t want those bondnotes,” – Promise Mkwananzi, leader of “Tajamuka”.

    “This is the build up to a big protest. They have seen nothing yet. When we get there, the government will realise that have to come to the table or leave office and allow a national transitional authority to manage the situations until elections,” – activist Stan Zvorwadza

    In tweets