The opposition party had planned what it said would be a peaceful protest to press President Emmerson Mnangagwa to set up a transitional authority to address economic problems and organize credible elections. At least three were reportedly injured with some others arrested. "A people's Government is going to be a creature of a settlement that has to come through comprehensive reforms, through a transition mechanism through an understanding that a roadmap we put on the table is followed", he said. The heavy-handedness was repeated last January to quell anti-government protests, leaving 17 people dead.
The party's vice president, Tendai Biti, told reporters outside the High Court: "The fascist regime has denied the right for Zimbabweans to demonstrate".
Many would know that Mr Chamisa thinks the demonstrations would be huge and violent to a magnitude that would unseat the Government.
A police spokesperson said he would give an update later.
"Churches are anxious by threats of violence following the call for mass demonstration on the 16th of August 2019 by the Movement for Democratic Change", the pastoral letter reads. "We are telling Mnangagwa to be gone".
More than 100 MDC supporters defied that before being chased by baton-wielding officers from a city square. They were sitting mostly but police used the tear gas against the activists.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of 21 human rights groups, on Thursday said six opposition and rights activists had been abducted and tortured by unidentified assailants ahead of the demonstration.
Friday's street demonstration was to begin series of nationwide protests organised by the MDC.
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Supported by the military, Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe before winning disputed elections in July 2018.
The protests come at a time the government is struggling to convince tired Zimbabweans that its austerity measures and reforms will revive the economy.
Amnesty International has accused Mr Mnangagwa's administration of "using some of the brutal tactics seen under the government of Robert Mugabe", said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for southern Africa.
"The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) informs the nation that based on the notifications given by MDC A to regulating authorities to hold demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and surrounding towns on August 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22, intelligence and concrete evidence on the ground has revealed that indeed these so-called "peaceful" demonstrations will turn out to be violent".
The demonstrations are viewed as a test of Mnangagwa's willingness to tolerate dissent in a country tainted by a long history of repression under Mugabe, its ruler for almost 40 years. One woman was taken to hospital by ambulance after sustaining a deep gush on her heard. There will be no rest until we get what we want. "We are exhausted, enough is enough", MDC member Patience Gurure told Reuters moments before police dispersed the group. Most businesses, including banks, were closed as workers stayed at home. Instead, Zimbabweans are enduring shortages of USA dollars, fuel, bread and rolling power cuts.
The party accuses Mnangagwa's government of state-sponsored violence, corruption and economic mismanagement.
European and USA officials are hoping that political reforms will accompany efforts to refloat Zimbabwe's economy.
However, Mnangagwa is said to have granted permission although with the caveat that if there is any violence, the security forces will respond with force.