Police clash with protesters at fuel rise protests

14 January, 2019, 19:52 | Author: Regina Silva
  • A motorist takes a nap on a bench near his car in a fuel queue in the capital Harare Saturday Jan. 12 2019

Police in Harare's Mabvuku and Epworth suburbs fired tear gas to disperse angry demonstrators who burned tires, threw stones, blocked roads and prevented public transport vehicles from operating.

The airline made the announcement on Twitter on Monday afternoon. The extent of the injuries were still being assessed, it added.

Soldiers were deployed at a shopping centre in Bulawayo's township of Entumbane, where protesters looted shops.

Shops closed in downtown Harare as riot police patrolled the streets and a military helicopter flew over the capital.

Protesters in Zimbabwe barricaded the main roads into major cities on Monday to protest a fuel price rise announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

"We have suffered enough", he told AFP, describing the government's decision as "stupid".

After years in global isolation, Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of basic staples like bread and cooking oil.

In a televised address on Saturday, President Mnangagwa said the fuel price hike would address the ongoing fuel problems, which have seen motorists queuing for hours at petrol stations.

However, to the detriment of the people who believed that they were voting for change, Mnangagwa revealed that petrol prices would rise to Z$3.31 (R45.79) for petrol and Z$3.11 (R43.03) for diesel.

The main labour alliance, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for a three-day stay-at-home strike, accusing the government of lacking empathy for the already overburdened poor. Media reports from Harare also said police conducted house-to-house searches looking for protesters.

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"It has become obvious that there is deliberate plan to undermine and challenge the prevailing constitutional order", said government spokesman Nick Mangwana in a statement late on Sunday night.

He accused unnamed opposition parties of disguising themselves as civic groups and of sponsoring civil unrest.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, issued a call for calm and said it was "in solidarity with peaceful citizen action across the country today".

"We want Mnangagwa to know our displeasure in his failure", said another Bulawayo protester, Mthandazo Moyo, 22.

Others chanted opposition slogans and sang songs denouncing Mnangagwa, a former confidant of Mugabe who was elected as president in an election a year ago that the opposition said was rigged.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time leader Robert Mugabe and won a disputed election in July, also announced a package of measures to help state workers after strikes by doctors and teachers over pay.

Doctors in state hospital went on a 40-day strike beginning early December demanding salaries in USA dollars and improved work conditions.

The stay-away comes as a foreign-exchange shortage has sparked scarcities of everything from fuel to bread, caused doctors to stay away from work and companies to cut or cease production because they can't import raw materials.

ZCTU called upon Zimbabweans to stay away from their workplaces, businesses and schools from Monday to Wednesday, as a way of protesting "the general astronomical price increases since a year ago against stagnant salaries".

He claimed that some Zimbabweans were taking advantage of the fuel crisis in the country to cause instability.

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