Nationwide protests and strikes against the economic crisis in Zimbabwe bring life to near halt

July 7, 2016 5:48 pm

A protester holds a rock next to burning tires during a demonstration in Bulawayo, , July 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Nationwide protests and
strikes against the economic crisis in Zimbabwe have almost brought
normal life in the African country to a halt.

Zimbabwean
riot police resorted to tear gas and warning shots to disperse small
gatherings in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday, following weeks of
unrest in the African country over the government’s inability to pay the
salaries of public sector employees.
The strike on Wednesday,
called by a little known social movement called ThisFlag and dubbed the
“stay-away day,” was the latest of a series of strikes staged in the
past couple of days.

Zimbabwean
riot police are deployed during clashes with public transport drivers,
in the capital, Harare, July 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)“This
is a sign of economic collapse, which has left people with nothing more
to sacrifice and nothing to lose,” said Dumisani Nkomo, a spokesman for
the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition campaign group.

“We are heading toward a tipping point as a country, where citizens will express their pain by any means,” he warned.

Inside
the once bustling capital, people are seen camping outside banks hoping
to withdraw their savings. In some suburbs of Harare, angry protesters
set tires ablaze and blocked streets to stop vehicles from reaching the
city center.
Meanwhile, police, too, have set up numerous
roadblocks on the streets, purportedly forcing drivers to pay bribes,
causing further anger against the government.

Protesters hurl stones in Harare on July 4, 2016 during clashes with Zimbabwe’s riot police. (AFP)According
to Dirk Frey, of the Occupy Unity Square opposition movement,
the protests were successful in forcing President Robert Mugabe to hear
people.
“Despite sporadic incidences of violence, all over the
country people have responded to the call. The state’s crackdown in
response, however, is of concern as it is a violent way of silencing
people,” he said.
On Tuesday, teachers, doctors and nurses began a strike over their unpaid salaries, leaving schools and hospitals crippled.
The
opposition says the 92-year-old president has failed to properly
address issues such as economic decline, mass unemployment and
emigration in Zimbabwe while accusations have also been leveled about
the repression of dissent and vote-rigging during his tenure.
Mugabe
has ruled Zimbabwe since the nation’s independence in 1980. He has
promised that he will run again for presidency in 2018.

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