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Zimbabweans Vow to Stage More Protests Despite Police Arrests

FILE: School children run past a burning barricade, following a job boycott called via social media platforms, in Harare, Wednesday, July,6, 2016
FILE: School children run past a burning barricade, following a job boycott called via social media platforms, in Harare, Wednesday, July,6, 2016

Civil society activists have vowed to continue with mass protests until the ruling Zanu PF government addresses the grievances of citizens, which include accountability, stabilization of the ailing economy, scrapping of a new import law and other issues.

Speaking in a highly-charged meeting convened by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition focusing on the current political disturbances in the country, representatives of various non-governmental organizations said the arrest of people engaged in stay-aways won’t solve the social and economic problems bedeviling the southern African nation.

Their remarks come at a time when the government has arrested over 300 people, who are accused of staging violent protests last week called by Pastor Evan Mawarire and Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign.

Denford Ngadziore, a member of the Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign, urged Zimbabweans to remain united, noting that victory was now certain.

“There now many movements in Zimbabwe which include #Tajamuka, #ThisFlag, Occupy Unity Square and the #Beatthepot, this is the beginning of a revolution which is not going to stop any time soon. As citizens we see these forces coming together to complete the uprising because although the groups are on different platforms, the objective and the message is the same: Mugabe must go now!”

Maureen Kademaunga, a female political activist and academic, said government should stop thinking that there are outside forces causing instability in the country as Zimbabweans are angry about the current economic situation, which has reduced most people to beggars.

“Over 20 years of economic crisis, young women face poverty, Zanu PF has promised 2 million jobs and nothing materialized. We have a poor health delivery systems, we have been forced into bearing the brunt of poverty and have been affected the most by the economic and political decay, so we are joining the masses of Zimbabwe in protesting against oppression and repression, we will be behind any other protests to come and we urge all young women in Zimbabwe to stand up and fight for our dignity.”

Another civil society activist, Joel Nyazura, who also attended the meeting, warned the Zanu PF government to listen to citizens.

“We are not going back with these protests, we are aware that the state is unleashing police brutality to intimidate us, but we would like to warn the Zanu PF government that they are provoking citizens, we will look for those responsible and make sure that we fight for our rights because it is our constitutional right to register discontent freely.”

Harare resident, Mkweshi Gumbo, added that the major objective of the protests is to ensure that President Robert Mugabe steps down for allegedly failing to run the country.

“The major objective that we have now is for (Mr.) Mugabe to step down, we don’t even want Zanu PF to resuscitate the economy, they are no longer needed or useful, everything that we are talking about should only happen post Mugabe era, we will use anything at our disposal to fight back the regime be it stones or human waste.”

Promise Mkhwananzi, a spokesperson for the Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign, told Studio 7 that if President Mugabe does not heed public calls to leave office, they will take their campaign to a higher level.

“We are not beginning the revolution, but we are completing it and winning but winning a revolution is not an overnight event, we are continuing putting pressure on (Mr.) Mugabe until he meets our demands, if he does not listen we are going to go into another level until the transitional process we want comes to pass.”

Meanwhile, the stay away called for today and Thursday was less successful than the July 6 complete shutdown, with most businesses in the city center open. Some schools were also open while others were closed in fear of what some education officials claimed were expected acts of public violence.