POLICE yesterday arrested seven people in Harare and Bulawayo following alleged isolated cases of violence triggered by businesses’ refusal to heed calls for a national shutdown organised by local political pressure groups.
The shutdown had been organised by Tajamuka/Sesijikile to force President Robert Mugabe to urgently address the economic meltdown.
Four members of Tajamuka/Sesijikile and freelance journalist, Chrispen Ndlovu were arrested in Bulawayo after they allegedly demonstrated in the city centre.
In Harare, police arrested two activists in Glen Norah suburb on allegations of engaging in violent activities.
This was after police briefly fought running battles with Mufakose protesters, who barricaded roads and burnt tyres.
Besides the few incidents of violence, it was business as usual in most cities although the atmosphere remained tense, as police kept a heavy presence in the streets to avoid a recurrence of last week’s protests, which later degenerated into a looting spree.
Tajamuka/Sesijikile co-ordinators yesterday insisted their shutdown campaign was successful, although it had gone largely unheeded by the corporate world and government departments.
“The shutdown was successful although we would expect a total shutdown, but you know you can never achieve it in total. But we are glad most Zimbabweans headed the call and stayed home,” one of the members, who declined to be named, said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) yesterday urged the public to brace for tomorrow’s demonstrations aimed at forcing the government to level the political playing field ahead of the 2018 elections.
The demonstrations are expected to take place in different parts of the country at the same time, although in Mutare, police have declined to sanction the protests, citing security concerns.
“The current situation in the country is not conducive for demonstrations,” the local police chief, Nyaradzo Mupita, said in a letter dated August 29 and addressed to MDC-T Manicaland chairman, David Chimhini.
This comes as more than 70 suspects linked to last week’s violent protests were still battling to be released on bail.
“We are using last week’s court order to protest because the police blocked us last week,” Nera member and Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume said.
He said several opposition leaders, including himself, had received death threats from suspected State security agents, who were demanding cancellation of tomorrow’s planned demonstration. Ngarivhume said he reported the matter to the police under case number RRB 2940878.