Zimbabwe’s security forces were on Friday deployed in the streets of the country’s two main cities to prevent anti-government protests organized by activists over rampant corruption and economic turmoil.
Businesses in Harare and Bulawayo remained shut amid fears that the planned protests could have been fueled by under-currents within President Emerson Mnangagwa’s divided ruling Zanu PF party.
State security forces vigorously enforced a lockdown of Harare and Bulawayo, blocking residents from entering central business districts ahead of the planned protests.
There has been rising discontent among the populace due to massive corruption,hyperinflation rising above 700% ,shortage of foreign currency and lack of a proper healthcare system.
The biggest blow Mnangagwa gave to the protests was the arrest two weeks ago and incarceration of main convenor of the demonstration, Jacob Ngarivhume and freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. The duo are accused of inciting public anger against the government.
Other activists, trade union leaders and journalists involved in planning the protests have gone into hiding as police pursue them.
Critics have condemned the state’s high-handed response to the protests, terming it authoritarian. Meanwhile the government has accused the USA of funding the protests.