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Zimbabwe News Alert

Zimbabwe: At least eight people killed amid nationwide protests January 15 /update 4

Rights groups report at least eight deaths amid ongoing nationwide protests January 15; telecommunications disruptions persist

15 Jan 08:47 PM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 1/15/2019, 12:00 AM until 1/18/2019, 11:59 PM (Africa/Harare). COUNTRY/REGION Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, Harare, Mutare
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Event

At least eight people were killed and 25 others were wounded in violent clashes as of Tuesday, January 15, amid the second consecutive day of protests to denounce fuel price hikes. The government deployed the military to Harare to patrol streets and disperse any demonstration attempts, while police rounded up activists in arrest operations in Mabvuku and other cities. Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa likened the demonstrations to "terrorism" and urged people to end the ongoing general strike. Internet and social media access remain restricted as of Tuesday evening (local time), as websites such as Facebook and Twitter have reportedly been blocked along with the WhatsApp messaging application. Continued telecommunications disruptions are expected in the coming days. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that his administration would not back down from the fuel price hikes, prompting concerns over the potential for further protests beyond the general strike, which is set to end on Wednesday, January 16. Mnangagwa is currently on a multi-state visit to Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Switzerland. A heightened security presence, along with associated business and traffic disruptions, is likely in major cities at least through Wednesday. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out. 

Context

Violent anti-government demonstrations erupted in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, and other cities on January 14, amid a three-day general strike called by labor unions and civil society groups. Over 200 people have been arrested by security forces.

On January 13, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's largest trade union confederation, called for a nationwide strike to be held starting on January 14 to protest a planned increase in fuel prices. On January 12, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on national television that gasoline and diesel fuel prices could increase by more than 100 percent in the coming weeks to tackle decreasing fuel supplies.

Nationwide fuel shortages have been ongoing over the past month due to importers' inability to secure foreign currency amid a long-running currency crisis. The country has been experiencing a deteriorating economic situation for more than a year, due in part to a lack of liquidity.

Advice

Individuals present in Zimbabwe are advised to fill up vehicle tanks whenever gasoline is available, ensure a sufficient level of fuel reserves before embarking on long journeys, and postpone nonessential travel until the situation stabilizes. It is also advisable to be vigilant at gas stations, where confrontations between drivers are possible. Furthermore, individuals are advised to closely monitor developments to the situation and avoid any associated protests due to the risk of violence. Those planning travel to the country are advised to bring a sufficient reserve of US dollars.

 

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