Police cage Zimbabwe ahead of mass protest

Zimbabwe Police Officers tackling a fleeing woman

Security forces on Thursday cleared people off streets of the capital Harare and forced shops to close, a day before planned anti-government protests during the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Shocking scene as police assault motorist on eve of July 31 protests

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has struggled to keep his promise to revive the economy, with many Zimbabweans complaining they are worse off than when he replaced the autocratic Robert Mugabe after an army coup in 2017.

Activists have called for street rallies across the country on Friday over corruption in government and economic hardships. Soaring inflation has eroded salaries and pensions.

Armed soldiers and anti-riot police patrolled on foot and in trucks, telling people to leave central Harare, while checkpoints blocked roads in.

“Why are they forcing shops to close before the stipulated time?” asked one nervous motorist, asking not to be named.

After midday, downtown Harare was largely empty.

On Wednesday, Mnangagwa said Friday’s protest would constitute an “insurrection” by the opposition.

A police statement said no demonstrations would be allowed.

“All security arms of government are on full alert and will deal decisively with any individuals or groups fomenting violence and sending threats or provocative messages through the social media or any other means,” it said.

Activists organising the protests on social media said they would press on and people would demonstrate in their neighbourhoods.

–Reuters

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