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Zimbabwe Girds for Another Shutdown As Police Intensify Crackdown

Zimbabwe was on Monday battening down the hatches for another potentially crippling shutdown this week as police intensified their crackdown on activists.

Campaigner, Pastor Evan Mawarire, one of the champions of last week’s stayaway, was lobbying citizens to defy government intimidation and stay home on Wednesday and Thursday.

But law enforcement agents had Mawarire and other activists in their crosshairs, summoning them to report to police on Tuesday.

Still, Mawarire, who allegedly survived an abduction attempt last week, remained defiant, saying he was particularly disgusted by the police brutality on people who heeded last week’s shutdown.

“We refuse to live in a Zimbabwe like that,” Mawarire said in a Facebook video post which had been watched by more than 44,000 people by close of business on Monday.

“And because of that and because you (government) have failed to meet our demands, on Wednesday the 13th and Thursday the 14th of July, we are shutting down again.”

Mawarire will report to Harare police with his lawyers on Tuesday. And in Bulawayo, MDC-T legislator, Thabitha Khumalo, was also summoned to appear on the same day by Law and Order officers.

Observers say the success of last week’s shutdown surprised the government which now appears increasingly jittery and pulling out all the stops to thwart any future action.

Activists are calling on the long-ruling President Robert Mugabe, 92, to step down over his government’s failure to deliver on jobs and to fix the ailing economy.

They also want government to lift a ban on food imports that had become the lifeline for many unemployed citizens who were buying goods from neighboring countries such as South Africa for resell.

Elsewhere, dozens of those arrested over last week’s stayaway continued to appear in court, including students; among them a Grade 7 pupil in Bulawayo.