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An uneasy calm in Harare following protests over fuel price hike | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Soldiers patrol along a highway [left] leading to Bulawayo in Warren Park of Harare, Zimbabwe. A protester burns tires in a highway [right] in Harare. An uneasy calm prevailed in some parts of Harare following Monday’s violent demonstrations after fuel price hikes announced by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday. XINHUA PHOTOS - SHAUN JUSA

Uneasy calm in Harare following protests over fuel price hike

by Zhang Yuliang, Tichaona Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- An uneasy calm prevailed in some parts of Harare follwoing Monday’s violent demonstrations after fuel price hikes announced by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday.

The government has blamed the main opposition party MDC Alliance and its perceived allies in the non-governmental sector for the mayhem which left an undisclosed number of people dead and both state and private property destroyed as some demonstrators turned to looting and security agencies allegedly shot at crowds.

Unconfirmed reports put the number of dead countrywide at five.

Mnangagwa announced fuel pump prices of 3.11 U.S. dollars per liter for diesel and 3.31 dollars per liter for petrol with effect from midnight Saturday.

Prior to the increases, diesel was selling for around 1.40 dollars per liter while petrol was going for 1.38 dollars per liter.

Foreign missions and other registered foreign bodies and tourists will fuel at designated points at the price of 1.24 dollars per liter for diesel and 1.32 dollars per liter for petrol upon production of proper identification documents.

Some police vehicles and private buses were burnt and shops looted as violent groups protesting against the increases moved around in many of the city’s high-density suburbs ordering businesses and schools to close.

On Tuesday Morning, Harare’s central streets remained empty as people stayed at home following Monday’s violence.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and some civic leaders had called for a three-day shutdown following the announcement of the fuel price increases, arguing that ordinary people were being subjected to more suffering.

Pictures and videos taken in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, showed people burning tires and looting goods from shops.

Minister of State for National Security Owen Ncube said Monday night that the State had activated all its security organs to deal with the situation.

"The prevailing security situation in the country is a culmination of a well orchestrated series of events by the MDC Alliance working in cahoots with NGOs, civic society, youth organisations, pressure groups and individuals," said the minister.

"Regrettably, this has resulted in the loss of life and property, including injury to police officers and members of the public.

"We express our deepest condolences to the bereaved families.

"Full investigations are underway," Ncube said.

He also said the demonstrations were intended to undermine Mnangagwa’s ongoing re-engagement efforts to market Zimbabwe at high level fora such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mnangagwa left Zimbabwe Monday morning for a four-nation tour of Eastern Europe before he heads to Davos.

"The events of the past 24 hours have been characterized by a well-coordinated criminal behavior, destructive and violent pattern which included the barricading of roads, harassment of innocent members of the public, burning of cars, disruption of children’s lessons in schools, forced closure of business entities, attempts to overrun police posts, destruction of property, unlawful possession and discharging of firearms in public, attacking tollgates and robbing them of cash as well as looting of shops," Ncube said.

"In short, this was terrorism and total breakdown of rule of law and order which had nothing to do with the constitutional right of citizens to demonstrate peacefully as enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," he added.

He said the government had activated all security organs to restore law and order and protect life and property and so far more than 200 people had been arrested in connection with the disturbances.

"Government urges members of the public to go about their normal day to day activities without fear as their security is guaranteed," he said.

Many people opted to stay at home Tuesday after many of them were forced to walk long distances back home on Monday after failing to get transport.

The internet access in Harare was cut Tuesday morning, which made internet users facing difficultly to access the web.

The block on mobile internet and social media started on 9 a.m. local time. People could still use laptops and computers to access internet before the access was completely down on about 11:30 a.m.
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UPDATES:

Zimbabwe police arrest activist on charges of inciting violence

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Evan Mawarire, an activist and pastor, was arrested by Zimbabwean police Wednesday from his home in the capital Harare.

The pastor launched #ThisFlag protest movement on social media, leading to his arrest on charges of inciting violence through Twitter and other forms of social media in the central business district, his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told journalists.

A witness told Xinhua that Mawarire’s home was raided by a group of armed police officers. In the present of his lawyers, Mawarire was taken to Harare Central Police Station.

In the past few days, Mawarire posted several videos in social media, calling for Zimbabweans to protest and shut down Zimbabwe over the fuel prices increases and the economic meltdown.

Zimbabwean minister of information, publicity and broadcasting services Monica Mutsvangwa said Tuesday that three people, including a police officer died in the protests.

She described the violent protests as an act of "terrorism," adding that the past two days have been characterized by well-coordinated criminal behavior to destroy properties and unleash violence on innocent citizens.

On Wednesday Morning, Harare’s central streets remained empty as most people still stayed at home. Some supermarkets reopened with lots of soldiers patrolling around.

The internet access was recovered in Wednesday afternoon, after a 30-hour shut down. However, some users were still facing difficulties to access social media.
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Three people die in violent protests in Zimbabwe: information minister

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean information minister said Tuesday that three people, including a police officer, died in the protests that started Monday.

The minister described the violent protests as an act of terrorism.

Monica Mutsvangwa, minister of information, publicity and broadcasting services, told a press conference that the government was very aware of the terrorism activities that were targeting the police stations with the intentions of stealing weapons for criminal activities around the country.

She added that the past two days have been characterized by well-coordinated criminal behavior to destroy properties and unleash violence on innocent citizens.

"Government urges members of the public to go about their normal day to day activities without fear as their security is guaranteed and we appeal to the public to remain calm and peaceful," she told the journalists.

At the same day, ruling party ZANU-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo blamed the opposition MDC Alliance for organizing the illegal protests.

"The current politically instigated, barbaric acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the MDC Alliance under the guise of mass protest should stop forthwith," Moyo said.

On Tuesday Morning, central streets in Harare, the capital, remained empty as people stayed at home following Monday’s violence.

The internet access in Harare was cut Tuesday morning.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and some civic leaders had called for a three-day shutdown following the announcement of the fuel price increases on Saturday, arguing that ordinary people were being subjected to more suffering.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Internet service interrupted in Zimbabwe’s capital

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The internet access in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare was cut Tuesday morning, which made internet users facing difficultly to access the web.

The interruption on mobile internet and social media started on 9.00 a.m. local time.

Most mobile phone users began having problems communicating on the popular Whatsapp platform, and then the access to other social media like Twitter and Facebook became difficult.

People could still use laptops and computers to access internet before the access was completely down on about 11:30 a.m. local time.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and some civic leaders called for a three-day shut-down, which is from Monday to Wednesday, following the announcement of fuel price increases, arguing that ordinary people were being subjected to more suffering.
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Zimbabwe to re-introduce local currency in 12 months: finance minister

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said that the country will have its own currency within 12 months, state media Herald newspaper reported Saturday.

Addressing delegates at "Road to Davos" meeting in Harare Friday, Ncube said adopting the U.S. dollar or the South African rand would not solve the country’s macro-economic problems.

Asked to give a timeline on when local currency would be reintroduced, Ncube said it would be done "in less than 12 months."

He said separating the parity between Real Time Gross Settlement accounts (RTGS) and foreign currency accounts (FCA) was the beginning of currency reforms which are necessary for pushing the country’s economy in the right direction.

"Our job is to introduce a currency that will be stable and less volatile.

"Dealing with the fiscal side is the first order to move towards a stable currency," Ncube said.

Zimbabwe adopted the use of multi-currencies in 2009 after its local currency had been rendered worthless by hyperinflation.

To relieve cash shortages, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced the bond note in late 2016.

Initially pegged at 1:1 against the U.S. dollar when it was introduced, the bond note, however, has gradually lost value against the real currency and is now trading at about one-third the value of the U.S. dollar.
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Zimbabwe president leaves for Eastern Europe on investment drive

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa left Harare early Monday morning on a state visit to Russia.

From Russia, he will also visit Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan as he seeks to consolidate relations with the eastern European countries as he seeks to boost re-engagement efforts with the broader international community.

He is also due to travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum which takes place Jan. 22-25.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told media the idea behind the visits was to boost Zimbabwe’s image within the international community.

He said the visits were strategic and Zimbabwe was expecting "quite a bumper harvest of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding."

Charamba said all this was in the context of the engagement and re-engagement policy adopted by the government.

"The whole idea is to put Zimbabwe firmly on the map so that we leave behind us the dark days when we were perceived as a pariah state," he said.

Zimbabwe has suffered international isolation since the early 2000s following land reforms that resulted in thousands of white farmers losing land to formerly landless blacks, while at the same time western countries were worried about governance issues.

Mnangagwa’s visit to Switzerland was a sign that there was growing interest in the Zimbabwean economy, Charamba added.

He said the invitation was also a sign that the jinx of isolation had been broken.

"On the whole, the future of Zimbabwe is positively bright, with better prospects in store given the gradual improvement of the domestic investment environment," he said.
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SEE ALSO:

Zimbabwe civil servants confirm Notice to strike over low wages

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An uneasy calm in Harare following protests over fuel price hike | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- A road is barricaded by protesters in Harare. Zimbabwe’s capital Harare was deserted on Monday as Zimbabweans began a three-day national stay away in protest against fuel price hikes and the general economic meltdown. XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA

             

 

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