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Commotion in Harare city centre as riot police beat up MDC-T youthsHarare police came out in full force on Wednesday and crushed a planned 'jobs demonstration and handing over of a petition to parliament' by opposition MDC-T youths on Wednesday.

Police in full riot gear descended on the central business district and brought to an abrupt end the intended procession that was set to begin at Town House. My Zimbabwe News editor was an eye-witness to the melee, as police armed with buttons and riot gear took turns to beat up suspected MDC-T youths. Several women were also assaulted in the process. A vehicle belonging to a My Zimbabwe News reporter nearly got smashed as the youths began throwing stones at the police.

A few hundred MDC-T youths gathered around mid-morning, singing revolutionary songs and denigrating police and authorities, but were quickly dispersed when police moved in. In no time, police officers had blocked all traffic from passing through parliament building. All cars travelling along Nelson Mandela avenue were forced to turn right at Sam Nujoma (2nd street) intersection in a bid to block MDC-T youths from presenting a petition to the parliament.

Two legislators, James Maridadi (Mabvuku-Tafara) and Eric Murayi (Highfield East) as well as freelance journalist Andrieson Manyere were briefly detained, but later released.

Maridadi confirmed he had been briefly detained, but released without charge.

"It is true I was arrested for a brief moment along with Murayi and I also saw Manyere and quite a number of youths from Harare. I am not even sure why they arrested me, unless walking in the streets of the city is now criminal. I did not have anything to do with the demonstration although I was aware of it. I just happened to be in the vicinity, hence I became a victim," said Maridadi.

Police, in a statement last night, confirmed the incident, but could not say whether there had been any arrests.

"The ZRP would like to confirm that 70 MDC-T activists were dispersed by police in Harare after a failed attempt to engage in an unsanctioned demonstration which saw them blocking traffic. The unruly and drunk MDC-T elements were blocking traffic in the Harare CBD and throwing stones at the public and police. Police will not hesitate to apply the full wrath of the law in dealing with malcontents who impinge on other innocent people's rights to move freely. It is also disturbing to note that some of the youths involved were influenced through offers to get drunk and engage in unlawful acts," police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said in a statement.

The opposition party's Harare provincial spokesperson and former Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu condemned the police action.

"It typical Stalinist style the police ruthlessly crushed a peaceful demonstration that was organised by the MDC-T Harare province youth assembly. At least 18 people were brutally beaten up, and   Eve Nyamadzawo, the assembly's secretary for constitutional affairs, was badly injured with several broken ribs while Albert Chidhakwa sustained a deep cut on the head," said Gutu.

The MDC-T's youth assembly had organised a march that was supposed to culminate in the presentation of a petition to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, asking the legislature to come up with a law that enhances employment creation for young people, according to Gutu.

Seven activists including a lawmaker, Ronia Bunjira, and another freelance journalist are languishing in jail after they were arrested in another botched demonstration by the MDC-T youths last week to press for jobs. The march turned into an orgy of violence in which police reportedly beat up The Zimbabwe Mail photojournalist Angela Jimu, briefly detained her before she was released without charge.

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