The latest skirmishes come just three days after the arrest of 71 demonstrators who protested the implementation of regulations that literally bar the importation of a basket of products.
Police in Beitbridge yesterday dispersed vendors and forced closure of markets for fear of further uprisings in solidarity with disturbances reported in other parts of the country.
Civic society group Tajamuka/Sesijikile said it was mobilising a massive job stay away tomorrow to force Mugabe to step down.
One of the leaders of the campaign, Promise Mkhwananzi, said the pressure group would spearhead tomorrow’s nationwide stay away.
“We are leading the peaceful protest and our core demand is for Mugabe to step down now. Mugabe and his Zanu PF government must step down, they have failed and the people have rebelled against them,” he said.
Yesterday’s Harare riots were sparked by commuter omnibus drivers and touts, who were protesting against numerous police roadblocks, which they claimed were pushing them out of business, as traffic police demanded hefty bribes.
They were later joined by restive residents, who were protesting economic hardships and government’s failure to deliver on its 2013 election promises.
As early as 5am, residents barricaded roads with rocks, burnt tyres and timber, blocking traffic into the city.
The situation quickly degenerated into chaos, as they fought running battles with the police, in which several tuckshops were looted and a bread delivery van was ransacked.
Police resorted to brute force, firing teargas and water cannons at protesters, while in other areas live ammunition was used to disperse the angry crowds.
“The problem with us Zimbabweans is that we take a backseat when others are pushing for a better life. Everyone should play a part in forcing the government to act,” a protester, who declined to be named, said.
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party threw its weight behind the protests against Mugabe’s rule, calling for the Zanu PF government to resign en masse.
“The crisis in the country is worsening every day, and the deteriorating situation demands nothing less than the resignation of Mugabe and his government,” party spokesman Obert Gutu said yesterday.
“These popcorn demonstrations and protests are symptomatic of grave national grievances that remain unresolved.”
With different pressure groups among them planning what has been dubbed a “national shutdown” tomorrow, Gutu said the MDC-T would be part of the protests meant to force Mugabe into retirement.
#ThisFlag frontman and cleric Evan Mawarire issued a statement through a video broadcast.
“Wednesday July 6, we are shutting down Zimbabwe because the government is taking us for fools. I want to invite you to do something to save our country. We love Zimbabwe so much we cannot let it continue to burn and taken down,” he said.
“We are staying at home, all workers and schoolchildren. This is your nation; civil servants do not go [to work].
This government needs to deal with corruption. They are arresting demonstrators and not corrupt officials,” he said, adding: “Even if I am arrested, do not go to work.”
Whilst in the diaspora, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who was sent on a borrowing sphree, was attacked by an angry mob of Zimbaweans in the British capital yesterday.
The angry mob was pleading with the British government not to borrow « thieves. »
This came as angry London-based Zimbabweans – who pleaded with the British government not to lend any financial assistance to Mugabe’s regime – besieged visiting Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Chinamasa was speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House on a desperate visit to Europe to try to raise money for the bankrupt Zanu PF government.
Meanwhile, Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Johannes Ndanga urged Zimbabweans to remain calm and peaceful, saying God had solutions to all the troubles bedeviling the country.
– News Day