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Zimbabwe Opposition Backs Protests As Advocates Escalate Stayaway Pitch

A rioter wearing a police helmet taken from a police officer joins angry protesters in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016. Police in Zimbabwe's capital fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to quell rioting by taxi and mini bus drivers protesting what they describe as police harassment. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwe’s main opposition has expressed support for protests that rocked the capital, Harare, on Monday and called on President Robert Mugabe to resign for failing to fix the country’s worsening socio-economic situation.

The action started in Beitbridge last week when hundreds of people picketed the border over a government ban on a range of imports, including food and other auxiliary household materials.

“Zimbabweans are putting this regime on notice and something huge will give if national grievances are not addressed,” said the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai as public transporters fought running battles with police in Harare.

“We strongly believe that it is the right of every Zimbabwean to demonstrate and petition and it’s enshrined in section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe Riots
Zimbabwe Riots

The party also called on the Southern African Development Community, which brokered a unity government pact that plucked Zimbabwe from the precipice in 2009, to intervene saying the regional bloc “cannot fold its hands while the situation is worsening in a member state.”

The unity government ended after the 2013 elections, with Mr. Mugabe's Zanu PF assuming sole leadership of the government.

This marked the beginning of an incremental reversal of economic and social gains that had been realized by the Zanu PF and MDC unity government.

Elsewhere, various movements were ramping up their push for Zimbabweans to stay away from work on Wednesday to protest the worsening situation in the country.

Zimbabwe Riots
Zimbabwe Riots

One of the campaigners, Pastor Evan Mawarire, who founded the #ThisFlag movement, spent the day stumping on social media.

"We continue to stand, and we continue to say enough is enough,” Mawarire told hundreds of viewers in a Periscope and Facebook livestream.

“Right now we are calling on everyone to national duty to save Zimbabwe. If you work for an employer who is forcing you to come to work, tell them that on Wednesday ‘I will not be able to come to work.’"

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