#ZIMSHUTDOWN: Zanu PF Uses Brute Force To Stifle Stay Away

#ZIMSHUTDOWN: Zanu PF Uses Brute Force To Stifle Stay Away
Published: 2016 July 14 06:52:43 (2271 Views)

A BRUTAL government crackdown that netted leading figures in the growing chorus of discontent with President Robert Mugabe’s government resulted in a muted response to calls for yesterday’s planned shutdown.
Police on Tuesday rounded up #ThisFlag leader Pastor Evan Mawarire, Tajamuka/Sesijikile spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, Bulawayo East lawmaker, Tabitha Khumalo (MDC-T), among others, on the eve of the protests, in a desperate bid to avoid a repeat of last week’s shutdown.
Mkwananzi is out on bail, Khumalo was quizzed and released, while Mawarire, now the hero of the new democratic struggle, yesterday had his charges of inciting public violence changed to subverting a constitutionally elected government, before being freed on a technicality.
Prior to the protest organisers’ arrests, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo had early this week ordered ruling Zanu PF youths to record all companies that would have closed as part of the protests.
Chombo, the Zanu PF secretary for administration, told supporters at a Zanu PF Midlands inter-district campaign rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru on Saturday, to force companies and shops to open.
“I don’t want to always deploy police to look for people who go on strike. It is you, the youths, and members of the women’s league who should go and look for shops that fail to open.
“If a shop is supposed to open at 8am and you find that at 10am it’s still closed, where would you buy? If a bank is closed when it should be open and you fail to collect money to pay your rent, then it ceases to be a bank and we should amend that,” he said.
The result of Chombo’s threat was seen in companies reportedly issuing travel warnings to their employees urging them “to assess situation first”, before reporting for duty if need be. Mobile telecommunications giant Econet, owned by mogul, Strive Masiyiwa, had it’s executives summoned by police to explain a social media hoax statement that seemed to excuse its employees from work to allow them to take part in the protests. 
In Gweru, it was business as usual, as business operators opened their shops fearing victimisation by the Zanu PF government.

Harare’s already hamstrung industry was the most affected yesterday, with a sizeable number of companies closing in apparent solidarity with the anti-establishment action. However, government schools and agencies were open for business.
A number of shops were closed in central Harare, with an uneasy calm in the capital that came to a virtual standstill during the first shutdown on July 6. There was a heavy police presence in the city’s residential areas, with major roads leading in and out of most high-density suburbs heavily cordoned off by armed police.
Epworth, the epicentre of last week’s violent clashes between police and protesters, was eerily quiet and residents said, while they supported the demonstrations, they were scared of a government witch-hunt as well and the losses that come with a day-off from their informal jobs while others said they feared participating because of the police brutality on protestors during the last protest.

- NewsDay

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