Several people have been beaten by police and at least one of the protesters sustained deep cuts on the head.
Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe arrived home after an overseas absence that led to intense speculation about his health – and joked that he had come back to life.
“Yes, I was dead, it’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” the world’s oldest head of state said on Saturday after arriving in the capital Harare.
He had left a regional summit on Tuesday, but flight data showed his plane went to Dubai after an original flight path indicated a course toward Asia. Mugabe has received treatment in Singapore in the past.
“I had gone on a family matter to Dubai concerning one of my children,” he told reporters, without giving details.
His spokesman had denied reports that Mugabe, the target of near-daily protests in recent weeks, was ill.
The leader was expected to address a youth meeting at his ruling party’s headquarters later on Saturday.
His absence had raised the level of uncertainly in a country already in economic and political turmoil. Frustration has been rising in Zimbabwe over a plummeting economy and allegations of government corruption.
Police on Thursday banned protests in the capital for two weeks, on the eve of a demonstration planned by a newly formed coalition of opposition groups.
Mugabe has been in power since 1980, and many in Zimbabwe have known no other leader in their lifetime.
He has said he will run again in elections scheduled for 2018.
Recently, his wife, Grace, said Mugabe would rule from the grave.