The MDC 16 August Demonstrations (also referred to as the #FreeZimbabwe March) were demonstrations organised by the MDC. The mass demonstration was supposed to take place in Harare on the 16th of August 2019 but the Zimbabwe Republic Police banned the protests on hours before, on the 15th of August 2019.
An urgent application to the High Court by the MDC to have the ban lifted was dismissed by the courts. The MDC leadership thereafter called the demonstration off. However, by the time of the court ruling, a crowd of MDC supporters and other citizens had gathered along Jason Moyo Avenue in Harare CBD.
Police dispersed the crowd using batons and teargas
Events Before 16 August
- On 6 August the MDC announced that it had notified the Zimbabwe Republic Police of its intention to lead public demonstrations in Harare on 16 August 2019.
- On 9 August Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi warned on Twitter that the firm hand of the government would be used to deal with the planned MDC demonstration. "President Mnangagwa is building the country step by step & any attempt to disturb him will be met with a firm hand…" he said.
- Later (09 August) the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Cain Mathema released a statement claiming that the MDC was planning "political machinations to have these purported demonstrations turned into violent episodes through the use of overt and covert means." He also claimed the MDC had brought in foreigners including "one who is known for masterminding the Arab spring and the recent Sudan clashes." It later turned out this was a reference to Srđa Popović, a 46-year-old Serbian political activist credited for helping topple the Slobodan Milosevic. Popović later denied any involvement and he had never been to Zimbabwe. The MDC also dismissed Mathema's claims as usual Zanu PF tactics.
- On 10 August Commander of The [Zimbabwe Defense Forces]] General Phillip Valerio Sibanda said in an interview with Zimpapers TV that the army would not interfere with peaceful protests. MDC President Nelson Chamisa praised the army for its position.
- On 11 August a prominent religious organisation, Zimbabwe Head of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) urged President Mnangagwa and Chamisa to meet to avoid any violence. A letter by the organisation said: "The fact some Zimbabweans feel compelled to the streets to demonstrate to voice their concerns evinces the need for broad comprehensive dialogue process towards the resolution of urgent and long-term challenges undermining unity, trust and patriotism"  President Emmerson Mnangagwa later responded that he had already given Chamisa a platform for dialogue via Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) and that Chamisa deserve any preferential treatment outside that platform.
- On the evening on 15 August 2019, the Zimbabwe Republic Police issued a ban of the demonstrations.
Video Of Police Dispersion of Protestors
- MDC Demo Will Be Met With A Firm Hand – Govt Official, Pindula News, Retrieved: 16 Aug 2019
- Call For Demos Means All Not Well – Churches Urge Mnangagwa & Chamisa To Meet, Pindula News, Published:11 August 2019, Retrieved: 16 Aug 2019