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Anti-government protests shut down Zimbabwe

Staff Writer |
Barely two days after Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a hike in fuel prices, riots rocked the country.

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Angry mobs who swarmed roads in the suburbs in Harare and Bulawayo called for the government to immediately start talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance Party in order to repair the country’s bleeding economy.

In the two largest cities, protesters barricaded roads as they burned tyres blocking traffic.

Public transport was nowhere in sight resulting in many people failing to go to work and school.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, the situation was also tense as police engaged in running battles with angry citizens.

The fiery protests follow calls by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and like-minded groups for a national shutdown to protest price increases in fuel and the government’s failure to remedy the mounting crisis.

“We want Mnangagwa to enter into talks with MDC to end this crisis. Mnangagwa is cruel. How can he announce a rise in fuel prices when people are suffering? This means everything else will become expensive,” said 37-year old Linet Chikonye, a resident of Glenora suburb.

Equally furious, 32-year old Donemore Jari, who works as a vendor along Highglen road in Harare, said: "Mnangagwa’s government has declared war on us as citizens."

Joana Mamombe, opposition MDC Alliance parliamentarian for Harare West, said: "People are saying 'enough is enough' and they want their livelihoods back. They want good governance and they want a functioning economy."

Although uniformed soldiers were not spotted anywhere near the protests, in Harare’s Epworth informal settlement, 25 kilometers east of the capital, gunshots were heard amid a stampede that left two people seriously injured.

In Harare, with no public transport in sight, commuters were seen braving the rains as they walked back home along roads dotted with rocks and various objects protesters used to block the roads.

Several buses and an airline company cancelled trips from South Africa to Zimbabwe.

South African broadcaster SABC reported that Zimbabweans were crossing the border into South Africa to buy cheaper fuel.

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