Zimbabwe’s two main cities – Harare and Bulawayo – have been in lockdown since July 31, Friday, patrolled by the secuiry forces in an attempt of government to prevent protests called by activists over corruption and rapidly degrading economic situation, causing unprecedented hardships.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s critics blame his government the return to the authoritarian methods of late Robert Mugabe, banning demonstrations, and abducting and arresting opponents.
Mnangagwa has responded that the protests constitute an attempt of “insurrection” by the opposition.
The leading ZANU-PF party this week branded the U.S. ambassador in Harare a “thug,” accusing him of funding protests.
In central Harare, the capital, banks, supermarkets, and businesses were shut as police and soldiers patrolled the streets.
A journalist in Bulawayo, the other main city, described a similar situation there, with some police patrolling on horseback. Businesses also stayed shut in Harare’s townships, including Mbare – an epicenter of protests in the past.
Public indignation is rising over an economic crisis marked by inflation running above 700%, shortages of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine.
More than a dozen activists sought by the police for promoting Friday’s protests were in hiding.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere and Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga separately said on social media they had been detained for protesting in their neighbourhood. Mahere posted a video of police advancing towards her and telling her to stop recording them. She later could not be reached for comment.
“The security situation in the country is calm and peaceful” police spokesman Paul Nyathi said.
«The Constitution of #Zimbabwe guarantees the right to peaceful protests; a right that @efie41209591, @advocatemahere and others exercised today. They should be released from police custody. #EU4HumanRights» reads the Tweet issued by EU delegation in Zimbabwe, calling for immediate release of Tsitsi Dangarembga,the award-winning novelist, and Fadzayi Mahere, the Consitutional lawyer.
Image above: social media