THERE was low business activity in the Midlands and other parts of the country yesterday as the majority of people chose to stay home in the wake of the demonstrations called by the opposition to protest the economic collapse in the country.
In Gweru, although there was no deployment of police and the army on the streets, residents who spoke to NewsDay Weekender said they still feared for their lives following previous protests, where soldiers had fatally shot people in Harare and left many injured.
“Although there appears to be general calmness in the city, I decided to stay at home just to be safe,” a street vendor, Solomon Kupfavira, said.
“When you have previous experiences where people are shot and killed, you can’t take chances. It is better to exercise extreme caution.”
The otherwise busy streets of Gweru, particularly on Fridays, were a pale shadow of themselves, as they depicted a Sunday, with most pavements deserted after
the majority of informal traders chose not to display their wares.
Although shops and banks were open, it was not business as usual in the Midlands capital.
Another resident, Memory Moyo, said the threats made by Zanu PF youths, and in particular senior government officials, to heavily descend on protesters “could
not be simply ignored”.
Last month, Defence deputy minister Victor Matemadanda said government would deploy the army to deal with demonstrators.
The statements were, however, condemned by human rights activists who said they had a potential to trigger security forces’ brutality against civilians.
But Beitbridge did not record any incidents of protests and the border town operated as usual after residents in the border town ignored stayaway and
Business was as usual at the Beitbridge Border Post, the hinge of most business operations in the town of 60 000 people.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said his province had not reported any demonstrations and business was progressing
“I am at the Provincial Agricultural Show and we have not heard any reports. We do not have anything,” he said.
All shops operated as usual and people in this border area went on with their daily occupations.
“We are in a shipping town, there is no industry and here, we do our own things. Most people are self-employed and it’s not easy to leave my sole source of livelihood when we are preparing for fees,” a soft drinks vendor in Dulivhadzimo said.
In Mashonaland West, there were no signs of demonstrations in centres such as Karoi with residents calling for dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
In Mashonaland Central province, police in Bindura summoned MDC Bindura district deputy chairperson Chipo Musonza, but she was later released without a charge after a few hours of interrogation.
MDC provincial chairperson George Gwarada said the police should not be used by Zanu PF to intimidate people and should, instead, be busy investigating serious crimes.
“Instead of harassing innocent citizens, they should spend time investigating the various cases of corruption that are gathering dust in trays of Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission,” he said.
But Mashonaland Central province war veterans leader Sam Parirenyatwa warned the MDC to allow the police to conduct their duties and never put the name of Zanu PF into disrepute.
“It is very careless for the MDC to condemn the police when conducting their duties. They are simply enforcing the law. Surely, they cannot fold their hands while the opposition plans to cause civil unrest in the country,” he said.