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Zimbabwe: Nationwide Protests

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Cops reportedly ran for their lives in Makokoba, Bulawayo after stone-throwing youths confronted them. Cops had fired teargas to force youths to disperse from the main Luveve road that leads to the CBD. Youths were burning tyres, blocking vehicles from using the road.


By Nehanda Radio and Staff Reporters

President Robert Mugabe’s government had reportedly been shaken by the unexpected nationwide protests that burst out last week and look set to grow. Unconfirmed reports say the Zanu-PF elite decision-making body, the politburo, was meeting over the groundswell of unrest, and that Zimbabwean citizens’ anger is boiling over.

Online newspapers reported that government officials were adamant that the state was in control of the situation at a time when doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants were increasingly agitated, but there was no denying that the strike had left no-one in Zimbabwe – and Zimbabweans in the diaspora – untouched, somehow.

Civil servants entered the second day of a nationwide stayaway on Wednesday over delayed salaries and poor working conditions, and they have been joined by thousands of restless Zimbabweans fed up with a worsening cash crisis, high unemployment, human rights abuses and growing poverty.

Social media activists have played an active role in the protests that started in recent weeks with sleep-ins in Harare’s Africa Unity Square, spread to the border town of Beitbridge and came back to Harare where commuter operators violently demonstrated against police corruption, and now civil disobedience has spread to other parts of the country.

Reports earlier suggested that the government had blocked whatsapp messaging, but subscribers later confirmed that the service had been restored. The majority of non-urban teachers stayed away from work on Tuesday, according to the Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (RTUZ).

Their urban counterparts were generally risk averse on the first day, but responded overwhelmingly to the strike call on Wednesday after a social media campaign, #ShutdownZim.

Surveys in Harare revealed that public transport was thin on the roads as citizens, among them private sector employees, stayed away from work.

Most industries and shops closed down in the capital and the dormitory city of Chitungwiza for fear of possible unrest that could result in damage to and loss of property and goods.

Police maintained a heavy presence in high density suburbs like Glen Norah, Mufakose, Machipisa, Mabvuku-Tafara and Epworth and there were pockets of harassment of residents by the law enforcers.

Most informal businesses that are reportedly dominated by Zanu PF loyalists did not open for business and northern suburbs were quiet while almost all the schools were closed.

Justice delivery was also affected as only a few magistrates and prosecutors reported at the courts and accused persons on bail were issued with warrants of arrest for failing to appear.

Bulawayo, the second capital which has been quiet in the last few days, came alight with angry protests on Wednesday.

There were reports of violent clashes between youths and the police at the normally busy Egodini bus terminus in Bulawayo, with the residents accusing the law enforcers of extorting money from them. The youths threw stones at police details who had to use tear smoke to disperse them.

In Makokoba, roads were blocked and protesters burnt tyres while police details just watched while, in Luveve, rioters beat up people who were going to work and schools were closed as parents kept their children at home.

Unconfirmed reports in Entumbane indicate that one person was seriously injured when he was stoned by angry residents who were irked by the fact that he had insisted on reporting for work.

Shops and businesses were also closed in Mutare, Masvingo and Gweru, with long distance travellers being left stranded as public transporters heeded the call to down tools.

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Empty streets in Bulawayo