HARARE, Zimbabwe — Lawyers say police in Zimbabwe arrested dozens of trade union members ahead of a planned protest in the capital Thursday over the worst economic crisis in a decade.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said police arrested Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions members in Harare and the cities of Mutare and Masvingo.

There was a heavy police presence in Harare after the government banned the protest, citing an ongoing cholera outbreak. The lawyers' group said a magistrate dismissed a challenge of the ban.

Zimbabwe now has gas lines snaking for hours, prices spiking and some food and medicines running out. The government calls the problems temporary and a necessary pain in rebuilding the southern African country.

The lawyers called the arrests a pre-emptive strike on the protest against "disastrous economic policies."