Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition party has vowed to go ahead with protests week against the worsening economy, dismissing government threats to stop the demonstrations.
The protests planned for today will be the first since rallies in January against president Emmerson Mnangagwa's decision to hike fuel prices that ended in deadly clashes with troops.
"It's all systems go, we are emphatically clear that on Friday we are going ahead in Harare," the MDC party's spokesperson Daniel Molekele told a press conference.
He said the "peaceful" demonstrations will roll out across four other cities in the next few days.
In January's protests, soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters, leaving 17 people dead. Several businesses were torched and looted in cities and towns.
Police have refused to sanction this week's planned marches.
Home affairs minister Cain Mathema has warned the police are ready to deal with protesters, raising fears of unrest.
"The police are ready to deal with unruly elements who want to cause alarm and despondency in the country," Mathema said in a statement last week.
But the MDC is adamant that the constitution only requires that the police be informed of the planned protests and that the party does not require police authorisation for the march.
The ruling Zanu-PF party's youth wing has also weighed in, threatening to block the demonstrations.
Pupurai Togarepi, the party's youth league leader, last week warned that "any thuggery will be confronted with equal measure." – Nampa/AFP