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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
opposition says Harare under virtual state of emergency
March 21, 2007
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HARARE – The Zimbabwean government
has imposed an undeclared curfew in most suburbs in Harare forcing
shops and bars to close as early as 7pm as political tensions rise
in the troubled southern African country.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party said on Wednesday the latest crackdown amounted
to a virtual declaration of a state of emergency.
Roadblocks have been posted on all
major roads leading into the city centre while armed riot police
have maintained a heavy presence in Harare’s working class suburbs,
the bedrock of opposition support.
"The townships have virtually
been declared no-go areas when night falls," said Tendai Biti,
the secretary general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction.
"We have received reports that
residents in most of these townships are not allowed to go out at
night at times as early as 7pm. Those found outside their homes
are beaten-up," Biti said. "We are in a de facto state
of emergency," he added.
Pressure is mounting on President Robert
Mugabe who is presiding over a deepening economic crisis that has
seen inflation zooming beyond 1 700 percent amid deepening poverty
The MDC has vowed to mobilise Zimbabweans
to confront Mugabe on the streets to force the veteran president
to step down.
Mugabe has however reacted violently
to the opposition challenge with his state agents brutally torturing
Tsvangirai and several opposition leaders while in police custody
Political analysts say Mugabe will
likely not give up power without a fight resorting to heavy-handed
tactics to hang on to power.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson of
the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, said his party had been inundated
with reports from their supporters of police beating up people on
the streets at night, especially in Kambuzuma suburb.
"We have received numerous reports
of shops and bars being closed before their closing time. We have
noticed that if the police find people in groups of more than five,
they disperse the people," said Chaibva. "There is an
undeclared state of emergency," he added.
Matthew Chirwa, a resident of Mufakose
suburb in Harare, told ZimOnline yesterday that the police were
randomly beating up people whom they found outside their homes after
"Police are out in full force
in the streets. Yesterday they stormed a local council beer hall
just after 6pm brandishing guns and baton sticks. They ordered everyone
out and ordered that the bar be closed," said Chirwa.
Masimba Zhou, from Kuwadzana concurred.
"Shops close at 6pm. People no longer move freely after 6pm
because the police are beating us up," said Zhou.
Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) said it had received similar reports of police harassment
in Harare’s working class suburbs.
"Residents are no longer free
to move around in their neighbourhood. Wherever they go the police
are either searching them or assaulting them for no apparent reason,"
"We have received such reports
from Glen View, Budiriro, Kambuzuma, Mabvuku and Glen Norah. People
are being asked to stay in doors," he said.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson
Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the government had imposed a state
of emergency in Harare
"There is nothing like a curfew
or whatever you are trying to intimate. Police are going about with
their duties of protecting lives and property. As such there has
been a marked decrease in incidents of violence in the townships,"
said Bvudzijena. – ZimOnline
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