Scores arrested in deadly Zimbabwe protests

Armed soldiers patrolling the streets as people queue at a supermarket in Harare, Zimbabwe, yesterday. The capital was gripped by three days of protests after President Emmerson Mnangagwa increased the price of fuel by more than 150 per cent. Many ac
Armed soldiers patrolling the streets as people queue at a supermarket in Harare, Zimbabwe, yesterday. The capital was gripped by three days of protests after President Emmerson Mnangagwa increased the price of fuel by more than 150 per cent. Many accuse Mr Mnangagwa of failing to live up to pre-election pledges.PHOTO: REUTERS

HARARE • Scores of Zimbabweans, including a prominent activist, were detained yesterday, lawyers and witnesses said, as evidence began to emerge of a brutal crackdown on dissent by security forces.

Following two days of protests against fuel price hikes, residents said soldiers and police were patrolling Harare townships and attacking people in their homes.

Zimbabweans had hoped President Emmerson Mnangagwa would make good on pre-election pledges to kick-start the economy. But since the November 2017 coup that ousted long-time leader Robert Mugabe, the country has fallen back into familiar ways.

Dollar shortages are battering the economy, rocketing inflation is destroying the value of citizens' savings and the government is reacting forcefully to crush dissent.

An Internet blackout entered its third day yesterday, leaving many without access to social media.

Mr Mnangagwa, on a trip to Russia and the World Economic Forum in Davos, said he was "deeply saddened" by the protests.

"Resolving Zimbabwe's economic challenges is a monumental task, and while it may not always feel that way, we are moving in the right direction," he said on Facebook.

 

There was no immediate comment from the government on the series of arrests or allegations of violence by police and soldiers.

Yesterday was the third and final day of the stay-at-home protest called by unions in response to Mr Mnangagwa increasing the price of fuel by more than 150 per cent.

Mr Evan Mawarire, a pastor who rose to prominence as a Mugabe critic, was charged with inciting violence, his lawyer said.

Police said on Tuesday they had arrested more than 200 people. Three people, including a police officer, died in violent demonstrations on Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Scores arrested in deadly Zimbabwe protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe