AFP
2 minute read
15 Jan 2019
3:20 pm

WATCH: Looting of Zimbabwe shops ahead of crackdown

AFP

The streets of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, were deserted Tuesday after demonstrations against a government hike in fuel prices had earlier turned violent, an AFP correspondent said.

Most shops remained closed and minibus taxis that usually transport workers from the suburbs to the city centre were scarce.

Videos have emerged of how shops were looted ahead of the crackdown.

In Kuwadzana suburb on Tuesday, police were on patrol and appeared to be forcing people off the streets.

One resident, Tawanda Mataya, said he and his 17-year-old son had been beaten up by police.

“It’s so painful,” Mataya told AFP showing swellings on his back.

“I was standing at my gate to assess whether I could go to work then this group of police who were passing by started beating me.

“My son who heard me screaming and opened the window to see what was happening was slapped several times.”

Three people were shot dead and many were injured when Zimbabwean security forces cracked down on protests, the main opposition MDC party said Tuesday.

“The information we have received is that two people were shot dead in Chitungwiza (on the outskirts of Harare) and one person in Kadoma (town),” MDC spokesman Jacob Mafume told AFP.

“This is needless loss of lives. Many have been injured, some of them seriously.”

He gave no further details.

The streets of the capital Harare were deserted on Tuesday a day after demonstrations when public anger erupted over Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis.

Most shops remained closed and minibus taxis that usually transport workers from the suburbs to the city centre were not running.

The government more than doubled petrol prices at the weekend after months of shortages when drivers have had to queue for hours to fill up.

Essentials such as bread and medicines have also been scarce.

On Monday, the police dispersed hundreds of protesters who burnt tyres, erected barricades and looted businesses on the first day of a three-day general strike.

Security Minister Owen Ncube said the security action had entailed “loss of life,” without giving figures.

In a televised address late Saturday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced fuel prices would more than double, saying the hike was needed to tackle severe shortages and “rampant” illegal trading.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said 13 people had sustained gunshot wounds in and around Harare on Monday.

At least 200 people were arrested during the disturbances. On Tuesday morning the Twitter account of the Ministry of Information said that “public order has been restored.”

The Zimbabwe Trade Union Confederation (ZCTU), for its part, reiterated its call to strike.

“Today it’s day two of the Shutdown. We urge workers and citizens everywhere to stay at home. Don’t give the violent a chance to harm you,” ZCTU tweeted.

“Our struggle is genuine and there must be economic reforms for the poor to survive.”

Mnangagwa took over from long-time ruler and autocrat Robert Mugabe following a military takeover in 2017, before winning a disputed election in July.

Currently on a tour of European countries, Mnangagwa will attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, next week.