The two-day general strike called by the Broad Alliance of opposition organizations came to an end today having had relatively little visible impact on an already depressed level of economic activity. The stay-away was intended to protest the state’s heavy-handed shutdown of informal businesses and its eviction of millions from their makeshift homes.
The government ignored calls from at home and abroad for a halt to its demolition campaign, instead expanding and intensifying official destruction. Police and other state agents descended on Old Tafara and Highfield in the capital, the St. Mary’s section of Chitungwiza and in Marondera, Rusape and Murewa, razing all structures deemed illegal. These included a number of chicken coops, obliging their owners to immediately slaughter their entire poultry stocks.
Hundreds of people who had set up new shelters in Mbare and Hatcliff Extension after the demolition of their homes were rounded up by gun-toting police, bundled into lorries and dispatched to Caledonia Farm outside Harare. The officer in charge at Caledonia Farm, Inspector Eunice Gamuchirai Marange, said there are no sanitation facilities and urged the authorities to set up a clinic. But State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa told Studio 7 the government will meet its responsibilities.
Meanwhile, general strike organisers admitted that they needed to do more to mobilize the population. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Tnions issued a statement saying there was a “minimal response” to the strike call. But National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the emergence of a united front was significant, and defended the Broad Alliance despite the apparent failure of its first major protest action.