Beginning of the end?

HARARE - The question that was being asked and debated the most by many Zimbabweans, after long-suffering citizens staged the biggest general strike ever mounted in the history of the country yesterday, was whether the unprecedented stay-away marked the beginning of the end for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

So stunningly successful was the nationwide strike, that a prominent opposition figure openly admitted to the Daily News last night that he was “very envious” that ordinary Zimbabweans, working on their own and without the support of political leaders and their parties, had managed to pull off such an improbable feat.

“What happened on Monday and today (yesterday) is huge. To be honest, I’m very envious of what the povo (Portuguese word for poor, ordinary people) have achieved. Never before has this regime been rocked like this from all angles. As a result, I’m now also convinced that the end is nigh for them (Mugabe and Zanu PF),” he said.

From Harare to Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Beitbridge, Bindura, Chipinge and other smaller towns, all the major urban areas resembled haunted ghost towns as Zimbabweans heeded the social media-driven call to shut down the country for the day.

Even the normally bustling Mbare marketplace in the capital had an eerie feel to it.

Many businesses, including banks and large retail shops — particularly in high density suburbs — also closed their doors for the day, with very few commuter omnibuses on the roads to ferry travellers.

And not even the suspicious shutdown of the popular multi-platform mobile phone messaging service, WhatsApp, in the early part of the day, could shake the growing spirit of resistance sweeping the entire length and breadth of the country.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said not even the huge 1998 stay-away, which was led by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai when he was still in charge of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had come close to yesterday’s general strike.

“Zimbabwe has crossed the Rubicon and there is no turning back. This shutdown marks the coming of age of the social media revolution which the government can only ignore at its peril.

“This is people power undiluted. It sets the stage for a showdown with the Zanu PF government that must lead to political change. And opposition political leaders need to move swiftly to press for much-needed reforms,” Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with the New York-based Human Right Watch, said.

Tsvangirai’s MDC, which recently held its own successful demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare, yesterday paid tribute to Zimbabweans for finally deciding to take their destiny into their own hands.

“The people of Zimbabwe have spoken in a very peaceful but resounding manner by staging this hugely successful stay-away. The regime has been shown the red card by the people of Zimbabwe.

“Even if the collapsing Zanu PF regime might jam social media platforms such as WhatsApp etc, the inevitable is about to happen. This regime will be history very, very soon,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Meanwhile, a local pastor, Evan Mawarire, who was among the leading proponents of the shutdown campaign, claimed yesterday that intelligence operatives were trailing him.

“Four men in suits visited my office yesterday (Tuesday) around 6pm. However, they did not say exactly what they wanted from me after they were asked what they wanted.

“But the action from the citizens is amazing. The citizens have united and spoken with one voice. We know it has sent a message to them (Mugabe and Zanu PF) already, as seen by their panic when they blocked WhatsApp.

“We know it’s them.  But one day is not enough. This must be a process. It’s up to the citizens to carry this forward, and something is going to happen to carry it forward,” Mawarire told the Daily News.

Police said they had arrested 35 people, including Australian tourists, during yesterday’s stay-away, with the tourists being nabbed in Victoria Falls after being accused of taking part in demonstrations.

“15 White adults and two black adults were also arrested for carrying placards written ‘enough is enough’ and I am sure you can see a third force behind this. Some of them are from Australia but they came to demonstrate in Zimbabwe,” police spokesperson Charity Charamba said.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights later revealed that they were also attending to multiple arrests in Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo, Victoria Falls and Zvishavane, amid reports of isolated incidents of violence.

Things turned nasty in the restive Mufakose high density suburb, historically a hotbed for political violence, when heavily-armed police stormed the streets and engaged in running battles with youths.

In response, irate residents emptied bins on the streets and lined them with rocks, resulting in police using teargas canisters and water cannons to disperse protesters. Dozens of people were injured in the skirmishers.

Harare Central Business District was deserted, with only a few people seen on the usually busy streets. Even in the posh low density suburb of Borrowdale, the Sam Levy business centre resembled a ghost town as both shoppers and diners stayed at home.

In Avondale, workers at one filling station claimed that they had been forced to open by police, after closing earlier than normal on Tuesday evening.

“Police in riot gear came early this morning (yesterday) and ordered us to open the station for the public. We had no option because they were threatening us and we obliged,” one employee said.

Banks and most shops at Chitungwiza Town Centre were mostly closed, while there was no sign of teachers and learners at most schools.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city was affected by violence, with police fighting running battles with youths in Makokoba high density suburb.

Police also randomly assaulted people who were taking pictures of burning tyres and street barricades, with at least five youths arrested at the statue of the late Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo in the city centre after they started chanting the slogan “Mugabe Must Go”.

In Mutare, even the usually busy Sakubva flea market was empty, with only a handful of traders occupying their tables. The city centre was deserted as most shops were closed.

Schools in Dangamvura, Sakubva and Chikanga briefly opened but by 10am students had gone back home as the strike by teachers continued.

In Chipinge, the situation was tense after anti-riot police fired teargas to disperse demonstrators. MDC organising secretary for Chipinge Central district, Itai Murema, was arrested as police dispersed protesters.

Angry youths then moved to burn tyres and barricade roads.

Comments (25)

Whether they like it or not and even Chombo is on record saying zanu is not shaken by the latest events, but reality is that they truly have been shaken. the reason for the politburo meeting is due to the shake up. But this is only the beginning as the regime can't tell what a united people can do next. It is a rude awakening and it is not ending here

mallorytk - 7 July 2016

the lawless mobs must be brought to order and to account,ordinary citizens were disrupted from their daily routine by mobs whose grievance is that they will no longer enjoy south african beans or mayonaisse,grievances should be raised following the right channels and if its about service delivery the opposition should test us at the polls and not cause a trail of destruction,i urge the authourities to descend heavily on those bent on creating anarchy,any sane person can see that this hals no hallmarks of an uprising but bears thuggery,idiocy and looting

truth - 7 July 2016

To Mr truth I don't think you understand the meaning of the word truth because" truly" speaking ZANU PF has been shaken by the protest of the people of Zimbabwe who are tired of being taken for granted by this mafia type regime.People can no longer tolerate the looting of national resources and wealth by these few and corrupt minority individuals who are masquarading themselves as a Democratically elected Govt.

limwaz - 7 July 2016

@truth.Your desperate comments will no move Zimbabweans by even a fraction of a decimeter.I was in the Harare city center myself and I was haunted by the absence of street kids to mention just the daily features of the city.Ordinary Zimbabweans are on the helm of the show.Watch this one.Gone are the days when you the shadows of the monster used to report lies to applause your watch dog looters of our belongings.Viva Zimbabwe.Pamberi nePovo!!!!

Cde Tofirenyika - 7 July 2016

PEOPLE SUFFERED A LOT AND I BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SHOW THOSE WHO ARE STILL BLINDED AND CONFUSED BY THE TACTICTS AND DIRT TRICKS OF ZANU PF THAT ,THEY MUST OPEN EYES AND SEE THE WORLD BEYOND ZANU PF , NDATENDA

jimm - 7 July 2016

To Truth, who's real name is probably Thick, what a prized idiot you are, probably a relative of a Zanu PF mafia idiot or one yourself. You and your Zanu PF comrades better prepare to leave Zims like rats leaving a sinking ship, because THE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN.

Zimbo Abroad - 7 July 2016

So I hear stay away 9 july starting at Africa unity square and moving to state house to ask Mugabe to resign is that true truth. if so this is the start . Zimbabweans at least have started the process and now they will get bolder as things get worse wait and see. Mugabe will not last till October wait and see

petros - 7 July 2016

@truth, you are lost and somebody must help you. The events of 6 July should not be taken lightly. They were not only involving MDC, but had Zanupf, Zimpf, PDP or Mavambo supporters. Indeed it involved the people of Zimbabwe. Instead of attacking the protesters you need to track the root cause of these protests. How can you attack people who are expressing displeasure at a policy that is against the masses. People are saying no to corruption and you beat them instead of beating the corruption, poverty and unemployment. It shows poor leadership skills as well as insensitivity. Down belittle Zimbabweans saying they are crying for South African Mayoinaise salad cream. Its not proper. People are unemployed and were finding a means of survival through cross border trading. even the First Lady once commended Zimbabweans for being innovating through cross bordertrading. and overnight the traders lost their source of income. Where is the local industry now. where are local products? And what is going to happen to the price of few available products? Instead of beating people , think of policies that better the masses. Capacitate farmers, empower all the unemployed youths with income generating projects, instead of thinking of beating the poor masses. God will judge you harshly. We have ministers driving expensive cars when the nation is in trouble , showing off their extra vagancy. Why not have them drive cheaper and re cycled vehicles because the nation has no money? Those ministers already implicated in scandals must be tried urgently and thrown in jail.

Viona Ngwena - 7 July 2016

@viona ngwena,having grievances is no licence to disrupt other citizens and engage in arson,i cannot condone violence ,its not an excuse,its not justified

truth - 7 July 2016

@ truth, I personally do not support violence. I had enough during the liberation struggle. I do not condone violence, neither do i condone corruption. Further more I am against anyone saying that Zimbabweans are demonstrating because they do not enjoy South african mayonaise and baked beans. Let me tell you my dear , those people bringing in that food might not even afford to enjoy the same food as they look for profits to sustain their family livelihoods. All we are saying is that overnight policies always affect the poor. Especially when the bans where impossede when other people had already crossed to SA to buy them the previous days. After all several companies are no longer manufacturing the same goods while the majority still import raw materials like crude cooking oil. In this case you can not talk of promoting dead local companies. infact we only see a way to monopolise supply of scarce resources by those in power thereby condeming the poor into abject poverty. For your own information, the Zishavane protest was mainly driven by known Zanu PF supporters. Same with Bindura. This is not about politics but about real issues affecting people. Issues that transent beyond the political real. If you can examine the prevailing mood among Zimbabweans, its now spiritual, well beyond Zanu, MDC, or any party. Its about survival my friend. I know if Zimbabweans are assured of a better future, either through reversal of these draconian policies, Zimbos are always pleasant people. But do not always try to stretch their patience too far.

Viona Ngwena - 7 July 2016

History is made! The wheel is turning. The people, a united people is greater than all the armies in the world. You can use and abuse the police and the army troopers for now. Make good use of them before they realise that they too are PEOPLE FIRST, security officers second. One day they will realise that the people are greater than the dictator. The days of giving each other import licences, contracts and tenders are numbered. Forward with the people of Zimbabwe, forward with total self determination, forward with development, growth and true and full independence. Pamberi ne vanhu ve Zimbabwe!

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chitedza - 7 July 2016

trueth do not talk nonses keep quite people of zim nolonger need this old man we do not need his plans any more .....he must put his plans to his family we do not need him any minutes as president...hamunyari makaita sei....

dofo - 7 July 2016

The very obvious point that the people managed to organize a successful stay away without a big name to run the logistics is a clear sign that people of Zim has been ready to take down Mugabe's gov, but they do not have a leader. The MDC lost direction and cannot come up with a strategy to shake the government. In fact we do not have an opposition party in Zimbabwe. Should there arise a party that is militant and which has a completely different ideology to the existing opposition, It will simply sweep Zanu pf out of power in minutes. The existing opposition has the same approach and 1wonders why they are so many

Ziggy Zigawo - 7 July 2016

Vana truth we know when dogs bark for their supper, you are well fed by this corrupt system that is why you insist on saying such nonsense. Kana usina chekutaura keep quiet . Zimbabwe spoke you and your masters would do good to heed the masses, we have suffered long enough. Aluta continua Zimbabwe ndeyedu isu maZimbabweans.

Simbarashe Muguti - 7 July 2016

mr truth you are not zimbabwean and you are satanic same with your zanu,you have failed the country .zimbabwe is a living hell while some people become fat (zanu) please sukani ezihlalweni or lileglue. seriouly a toy is better than zim.grrrrrr god will punish you evil doers

wonde - 7 July 2016

@wonde,no right thinking zimbabwean can support harrasement of citizens and destruction of property,we can not afford to let that south african culture creep into our people as a govt zanu pf has availed many empowerment initiatives ,ithas put people at the centre of every govt policy much to the dislike of western powers,our popularity in zimbabwe runs sky high and we challenge all those people to an election to solve this impasse,in politics the majority decide not a couple of elites or rogue elements like touts whose tactics of using violence to coerce people is legendary,this minor protest will not deter us from delivering for the masses the majority who reside in the rural areas where there was no shutdown,and as zanu pf dont think we are lame ducks we will respond to this provocation

truth - 7 July 2016

I don't understand how people can defend a clueless 92 year old geriatric who has totally destroyed the country with his ruinous self serving policies which only stand to benefit the ruling people. This time he has stretched the people too far and the people have spoken. They are simply not happy. Why hasn't Mugabe come out and spoken about the crisis? Because he doesn't care at all. He is doing fine.

Inyika - 7 July 2016

@ Truth, can you truly be this clueless and totally out of touch kana kuti imbanje dzinotaura when you speak. Can you truly justify your utterances as being against violence, while making it sound as if people are complaining over mayonaise in an economy where they cannot send their kids to schools, where retirees have no savings and have to hustle in their 70s, where people that suffered to educate their kids are watching their kids without jobs. And you have the temerity to insinuate that people are fighting over beans and mayo. Kuguta nekugarika kwako kwanyanya kukunetsa, tichakuonai your bread basket is on its way out the door maybe one day if the law of karma holds true you will also be struggling to feed and clothe your own and you will know how it feels. Until then however, tibatsire nekusataura, respect yourself at least if you have none for us.

B Moyo - 8 July 2016

Economically, i could have supported the decision of banning of imports if ever Zimbabwe have got existing industiries producing enough for the people at an affordable price , unfortunately we don't have such industries , therefore the government must be engaged into a long term , create industrial sites , have jobs for the people and thereafter start grieving against those who goes outside and imports goods which are already available and afforded by the people in the country . ZANU PF must go , the young man Lumumbu bravely drew the RED line us and that RED line must continue exsting until it becomes clear to Mugabe and ZANU PF that they have failed the people . Amandla !!! Ngawethu !!

Khalabemgeza - 8 July 2016

That old saying, "desperate people resort to desperate measures," applies to the current situation in Zimbabwe. Trying to defend a regime which is responsible for gross human rights abuses, a totally ruined economy, 90% unemployment, shocking levels of corruption and a total disregard for the feelings of people with all the poverty and suffering is something only a mad person or someone receiving lucrative handouts would do? People just have to realize that Mugabe refuses to hand over power for one reason only: he is frightened to do so fearing the consequences for him and his family knowing only too well just how much he is loathed and despised. So he clings on to power and will resort to any tactic to ensure that he does so. And if he does eventually go, his wish is to see all the cities burning in his wake as a form of punishment to those who oppose him. Wake up Zimbabwe. You all have to know what you are dealing with. No easy transition to democracy here.

Mbewa - 8 July 2016

I once met a vendor on the roads and he asked me to buy stawberries he said he was hungry and I told him to eat the strawberries and he said i can't afford to. So the same goes for baked beans etc. There is a market for these products and the people selling them cannot afford to eat the baked beans etc. What really disgusts me is the arrogance and pride the rich have. Humanity come before any religion. You cannot make a statement like "crying for baked beans" its not baked beans its about humanity.

margaret de sousa - 8 July 2016

@Truth.My little brother,little in the sence that im older,when pple have anger whether rightly or wrong,its best to let them to let it out by speaki ng.During this time its best also to be quiete n listern,attentively,then give a sincere ,understanding comment in responds.Its not good to counter every verbal expression.Yu lose value in yo input.Yu need to be respected even if yu are not liked or liked.Strive to maintain collectivenes of yoself and speak.Otherwise stalking n shouting back is not proper. Yos in zanu,Viola Gwena.

viola gwena - 8 July 2016

lawless mob.....my foot

Gogodera - 8 July 2016

is it the beginning of the end? it may be the end of the beginning... the real test lies in the aftermath of this transition.... yes, compared to what the future seems to be, this is the easy part, because we are all united against something. in a bus, we all agree the driver must stop and let someone else drive, we may or may not all want to go to the same place, but whose route shall be the safest, shortest, most convenient? the road also has thorns, and robbers. how many of us know how to operate a bus? its not a sedan.....

maziso - 13 July 2016

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