HARARE, JAN 17 — Harare’s city center remained largely quiet Thursday as many workers stayed at home and many businesses remained closed.
This followed the violence that erupted in the Zimbabwean capital and other parts of the country Monday and Tuesday as Zimbabweans protested against rising fuel prices and cost of living.
Most retail shops, which closed on Monday as violence flared, opted to remain closed as owners assessed the situation following the destruction of property and looting which characterized the two days of protests.
At least three people, including a policeman, died during the disturbances.
Both vehicular and human traffic remained thin on Thursday with a few fruit vendors and illegal money changers milling around their stations while some motorists queued up for fuel at filling stations.
Although internet services were restored late Wednesday after a more than 24-hour blackout, the government directed to keep social media services blocked.
A notice from the country’s biggest mobile network, Econet, said the services would remain blocked till further notice.
“Please be advised that the internet is back online under a directive that Facebook, YouTube , WhatsApp, Twitter will remain closed until further notice. Any inconvenience is sincerely regretted,” the mobile network operator said in a message to subscribers.
Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday urged quiet, saying that he understood the frustration and pain many Zimbabweans were going through as his administration put in place the fundamentals needed to transform the economy.
In a post on Facebook, Mnangagwa said violence would not reform the economy and that there was no justification for any against the people and property.
He said he understood the pain and frustration that many Zimbabweans were feeling, but resolving Zimbabwe’s economic challenges was a monumental task and the government was moving in that direction.
“Wanton violence and cynical destruction is not the Zimbabwean way. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. As I have said numerous times, everyone in Zimbabwe has the right to express themselves freely to speak out, to criticize and to protest,” he said.
Six hundred people have been arrested following Monday’s acts of hooliganism and looting and the government is urging all workers to return to work tomorrow as the situation has now normalized.
Minister of State Security Owen Ncube said Wednesday evening that 600 people have been arrested following Monday’s acts of “hooliganism and looting.”
“Security forces have so far arrested 600 people in connection with these riotous acts, 214 of which have already appeared in court. Our security agents are on the ground monitoring the situation to ensure that those who want to engage in their normal business do so without hindrance.
“We are also appealing to all service providers to render their services to the people of Zimbabwe and in the same vein urge transport operators to resume carrying passengers, schools to open and generally for the public to engage in their various activities freely,” the minister said in a television speech.
Ncube also condemned the violence and blamed the MDC Alliance and some NGOs for the disturbances.
“Government therefore places full responsibility for compensation for victims of the violence, destruction of property, injury and loss of life to the MDC Alliance and all its associates.” – XINHUA