ZwNews Chief Correspondent
To some protestors, the well planned shutdown of Zimbabwe was successful; the country’s cities resembled deserted war zones with no business activity taking place, as people stayed away, no public transport was on the roads during stay aways.
In Harare on Tuesday, this reporter witnessed police officers wielding their baton sticks, shields, armed with rifles and tear-smoke canisters; it was indeed the ultimate shutdown. As if to add the flavour to the shutdown, a memo was sent to the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) by the government ordering it to block social media channels and internet connectivity. Potraz effected the directive immediately as it was the state’s belief that social media was being used by citizens to mobilise themselves against the government.
However, Information and Publicity deputy minister Energy Mutodi made a fool of himself on ZTV when he refuted claims that the government blocked social media.
He attributed the jamming to too much traffic on the internet as people wanted to know what was taking place in the country.
Mutodi speaking on national television said the jamming situation is expected to be on for the coming few days.
Apparently, a cursory survey of the situation by this writer in Hillside, Breaside, and surrounding areas as well as Epworth, revealed a tense atmosphere, as many stayed away from their usual chores, the situation that others alleged was also replicated in some other towns.
Meanwhile, a reliable source in Marondera said it was a tense atmosphere in the town with all shops, including key supermarkets closed for business on Tuesday as a security measure, amid heavy police presence. He said the situation started calm, early in the morning but later turned violent. He said shop workers who had reported for duty were turned back home, as the environment was so risky for conducting normal business, and could be seen in uniform walking home as there were no transport to ferry them.
The source said it started with touts playing with a soccer ball at the main rank which looked deserted with no combis in sight. He said all hell broke loose when the police who were monitoring the situation confiscated the soccer ball and ordered the touts to go home.
The touts then turned violent, torching tyres alight, blocking major roads, and turning vending tables upside down. The big banner with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s picture was torn up, with some protestors trying to set it alight. The source said by noon time the whole town was a dead silence, as a sombre atmosphere engulfed the Mashonaland East capital city.
He said the violence spread to residential areas such as Cherutombo, Cherima, and Dombotombo where it was reported that a police station in the area was stormed by protestors who destroyed property and documents, with the officers manning it fleeing.
The source went on to say police were interrogating people on the roads as they were alleging that the people who caused disturbances in the town had been ferried from Harare. “At around 7 pm, the police at Cherutombo were interrogating anyone they saw passing by, saying they could be visitors driven into the area to cause trouble,” said the source who refused to be named.
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