An informal survey carried out by Studio 7 in the Harare central business district showed that very few vehicles were in the city where the majority of shops, schools and supermarkets shut down. Just a few retail shops like O.K Supermarket, Pick and Pay and Innscor were open but with very few shoppers.
A local resident, Whatmore Makokoba, said he is happy that Zimbabweans stayed at home to express their anger over what is going on in the country.
“As an ordinary citizen who is also suffering in Zimbabwe, I want to congratulate the Zimbabwean population for staying away and showing the government that they are not happy with the current situation where a lot of people are suffering and are not employed. It is my wish if this stay away could have lasted for days so that the message is clear to government.”
Another resident, Claris Madhuku, who is also a civil society activist, echoed the same sentiments saying Zimbabweans are fed up with President Robert Mugabe’s leadership.
He urged the government to address people’s concerns.
“The impact is very huge. As young people we have a lot of grievances. People have been frightened before but the fact that they have taken heed of the stay away as less than 10% of business is open today shows that government should begin to listen to the people or they will be forced to listen.”
An economist, Luckson Zembe, noted that the stay away is a clear statement that Zimbabweans cannot take it anymore and there is need to tackle the current economic crisis.
Zembe said government and private companies lost a lot in potential revenue today.
“Yes, indeed there is a good degree of stay away from work today by employees. Shops are closed and firstly this is an indication of the severe impact of the current economic situation on the livelihood of people. It is also an indication of the extent to which people are now saying something drastic has to be done to correct the situation. Thirdly, it is a statement from the general public that they are saying we cannot take it anymore, they need solutions from our leadership.”
He urged the government to quickly address the prevailing harsh economic situation in the country.
“There are huge implications not only to companies but also to the economy in general and also to government revenue which at the end of the day also filters to the general public as well. If government fails to get sufficient revenues it means it will not be able to provide the services.
"At the end of the day it is the general public that bears the brunt of what is going on around hence the serious and urgent call on our leadership that it cannot be business as usual and we cannot continue to live in our comfort zones and pretend that things are OK when things have deteriorated to this extent when people are making a clear statement.”
Some Zimbabweans also expressed concern over poor internet connectivity and a temporary blackout of the messaging application, WhatsApp.
They suspected that it was being jammed by the government. But the Minister of Technology and Courier Services, Supa Mandiwanzira, said these allegations were baseless.
“I don't know whether it’s slow because of the massive use of the system today because people are hyper in terms of their communication or that there is a system failure somewhere but I can tell you that as government we have no intention to ban it.”
The complete shutdown of Zimbabwe comes at a time when the government is faced with a myriad of economic challenges including failure by the government to pay civil servants, unemployment and shortage of drugs in most hospitals.