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“Just quit and go”: Protestors have a message for Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe

AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Nothing subtle about it.
By Lily Kuo
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe is facing a wave of public opposition that perhaps even he can’t put down. Hundreds took the streets yesterday (Aug. 3) to protest the introduction of new local bank notes—the government’s attempt to stem a cash shortage. In addition to using tear gas and water cannons, police charged on the demonstrators and beat them with batons until they dispersed.

Mugabe is known for his harsh silencing of critics. But he’s failed to quell protests over new policies that Zimbabweans worry will worsen the already struggling economy, among them a ban on imports, a delay in paying government salaries, and most recently the reintroduction of local bank notes. Ever since declaring its own currency defunct in 2009, Zimbabwe has relied on a basket of currencies that includes the US dollar, the South African rand, the British sterling, and most recently the Chinese yuan.

A temporary WhatsApp blackout did little to stop protestors from mobilizing under the online campaign #ZimShutdown last month. Demonstrators, including a group that described themselves as unemployed university graduates, wore graduation gowns and held posters that read, “Just quit and go, I’ll forgive you.” Others wrapped the national flag, now a symbol of the protest movement, around a cross.

Mugabe, 92 and now in his 36th year as president, plans to stand in the next election in 2018.

AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
A jobless University graduate demonstrates outside of parliament in Harare.
Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo
Police broke up a march in Harare on Aug. 3.
AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
A cameraman is assaulted by police during demonstrations in Harare on Aug. 3, 2016.
AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Zimbabwe police officers clash with protestors in Harare.
AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Zimbabwe police clash with protestors in Harare on Aug 3.
AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
A cross with the Zimbabwean flag wrapped around it is lifted during demonstrations.

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