Armed riot police officers were on Saturday, 7 May deployed in huge numbers in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) apparently in response to a planned national shutdown on Monday, 9 May.
Activists and civic groups are urging citizens to take part in a “stay at home” protest on Monday to force the Government to address the rising cost of living, transport crisis and rising inflation among other challenges.
Authorities are wary that the situation could degenerate into anarchy and an orgy of violence as happened with the fuel protests in January 2019.
The planned protests, running under the #ShutDownZimbabwe, have been trending on social media over the past week.
Yesterday truckloads of riot police officers in full gear roamed Harare’s streets while other police officers were stationed at seemingly strategic places in twos.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi on Saturday confirmed the deployment of riot police officers but said there was nothing unusual with the deployment. He said:
It is about police visibility. We are just maintaining police visibility as per our constitutional mandate, so there is nothing sinister about police patrolling whether on foot or using vehicles.
In January 2019, several people were killed, including a policewoman, while hundreds were injured when riots erupted after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150 per cent fuel price hike just before he travelled to Russia and other former Soviet Socialist Republics (Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan).