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Zimbabwe Strike Begins

Most businesses are reportedly open as usual in the capital Harare.

Tens of thousands of people have reportedly turned up for work, and many shops, banks and schools are open.

Around 30,000 people have been arrested in cities across Zimbabwe, with hundreds of homes and businesses demolished, according to police.

A coalition of civic groups, backed by the main opposition Movement for Democratic change, urged Zimbabweans to stay away from work to protest the destruction by police of illegal homes.

"We call on all the people of Zimbabwe to organise themselves and protest against the actions of this regime," said the group.

"This criminal regime ha destroyed and stolen the properties of people who are trying to make an honest living through informal trading."

Police have warned they will quash protests, and have set up roadblocks along most highways leading into the city, searching cars at random.

There have been no reports of troubles as yet.

The government announced the sweep three weeks ago saying it would clean up Zimbabwe's urban areas and crack down on people involved in illegally trading foreign currency and foodstuffs like sugar.

Thousands of self-employed people have seen their informal business premises razed to the ground and their goods confiscated in the campaign. The strike coincides with the state opening of parliament, during which President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce measures that would allow him to tighten his grip on power.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.