There was no sign of a stay away in Harare on Thursday despite calls by Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement for Zimbabweans to stay in doors on Wednesday and Thursday.
Businesses were operating as usual in the city. Pastor Mawarire, who was facing charges of allegedly attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government, was set free by a Harare magistrate, who criticized police for changing charges laid against him without following some provisions of Zimbabwe’s constitution.
In an informal survey in Harare, residents gave various reasons for reporting for duty following the call of a nationwide stay away by Pastor Mawarire.
Isaac Makotore, a vendor in Harare's central business district, told Studio 7 that while he wants change in the country and supports political protest groups in the country calling for stay aways, lack of money forced him to go back to the streets to sell his wares.
“Today I came for work because today was different from the first stay away. I decided to come and look for money.”
Another resident, George Goliath, said while he headed the call for a stay away yesterday, another day off today would have decimated his business.
“Today I came to work because I am an indigenous entrepreneur who is self-employed. I own a small company (and) I was weighing whether I should go (to work) or not. I need to survive. Our economy is not well so I have to work because I need to look after my family.”
Lynette Mudehwe, a civil society activist, said lack of proper coordination dampened the stay away that had been planned for today and yesterday.
Mudehwe said the payment of civil servants’ June salaries and other factors may have derailed the public protests.
“The first stay away was successful because two constituencies in the country were particularly not happy. These are commuter transport operators and civil servants. Civil servants were not happy at their employer the government for not paying their salaries on time. The teachers had called for a total shut down of schools, so the children could not go to school.
“The second angry constituency was commuter transport operators, they were saying they sick and tired of working for ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police), they were not making money out of their businesses and were being harassed by traffic police officers. So, the schools were not functioning, and there was no transport. This was different from this week’s stay away because there was less anger; civil servants have been paid and transport operators were also trying to make for time that had been lost since their business is a hand to mouth type of a business and they were on the other hand not mobilized enough by the shut down organizers.”
Protest groups have, however, vowed to continue with the sporadic protests to force President Robert Mugabe to step down for allegedly failing address the deteriorating economic situation, corruption and misgovernance in the country.
Pastor Mawarire was not available for comment.