Calm returns to the streets of Harare following recent violent protests

By Wallace Mawire
Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) of Nelson Chamisa burn an election banner with the face of Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 1, 2018.
Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) of Nelson Chamisa burn an election banner with the face of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 1, 2018.

Calm has returned to the streets of Harare in Zimbabwe following recent violent protests by the opposition MDC Alliance which reportedly  saw at least six people being killed by the military and scores injured.

   However, business activity is beginning to slowly pick up after the police has assured the public that they should continue with their normal business activities.

Today, Friday, a few shops had opened up early in the morning with most business people not sure whether the violent skirmishes would erupt following the announcement of the presidential election results.

Yesterday, Thursday, most business grinded to a halt as there was heavy presence of security agents, especially the military who are reported to have ordered most citizens to vacate the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare by 1 pm mid-day.

Most shops, including banks remained closed following the destruction of properties blamed on opposition activists.It is also reported that some of the business premises and vendors who conduct their daily activities in the pavements of Harare’s CBD were subjected to looting and lost their wares.

Today, vendors who had fled from the skirmishes amid open gunfire on demonstrators from the military are slowly trickling in parading their wares in anticipation of normal business activity with hope to regain lost time and income experienced during  the past three days.However, on observation it is evident that a sense of fear still prevails and some shop owners are still afraid to open their business.

Most  citizens interviewed by Pan African Visions in the streets of Harare have condemned the recent violent demonstrations by opposition MDC activists which they said had resulted in the death of some innocent people caught in crossfire and  severely affected normal business activity, especially in the CBD of Harare city.

The army was deployed in the capital on Wednesday after police proved unable to quell demonstrators who claim Monday’s historic election was being  rigged.

In a late-night press conference, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu warned that the government “will not tolerate any of the actions that were witnessed today.”

“The opposition… have perhaps interpreted our understanding to be weak, and I think they are testing our resolve and I think they are making a big mistake,” he said.

By mid-afternoon yesterday much of the city centre resembled a war zone, with military helicopters flying overhead, armoured personnel carriers moving through burning debris and patrols of soldiers chasing stone throwers down narrow streets. A pall of smoke filled the sky. On cracked pavements there was glass and – in some places – blood.

Terrified commuters took cover in shop doorways or behind walls still covered in posters bearing portraits of election candidates as volleys of shots rang out and stones flew through the air.  Soldiers were seen  beating people with makeshift batons.

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