Security forces have set up roadblocks and checkpoints on routes into Harare's Central Business District (CBD) on Thursday, July 30, ahead of the planned anti-government demonstrations taking place nationwide on Friday, July 31. Disruptions have been reported as thousands of employees and shoppers were barred from entering the CBD by police and the army. Media sources suggest that the security forces are patrolling streets in the capital. Opposition parties, churches, students, and civil society groups have called for national anti-government demonstrations to take place on Friday.
Localized transport disruption and business disruptions should be expected throughout the day and throughout Friday. A heightened security presence should be anticipated around planned protest sites and major security operations are expected in Harare and other cities.
Nationwide anti-government demonstrations have been organized by opposition parties, civil society groups, students, and churches. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions have planned demonstrations to coincide with a general strike against the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country. The Transform Zimbabwe opposition party has also called for nationwide protests, to denounce government corruption and to demand the resignation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Both demonstrations have been banned by the government, citing restrictions on mass gatherings due to the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19). On July 20, police arrested an investigative journalist and an opposition figure in the capital Harare in connection with the planned protests, the latest arrests in a series of alleged abductions of opposition figures. The two detainees face charges of incitement to participate in public violence.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has been accused of failing to deal with corruption amid adverse economic and health strains in Zimbabwe due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The country's health minister, Obadiah Moyo, was charged in June in connection with the awarding of a 60 million USD contract to a company allegedly selling COVID-19 supplies to the government at inflated prices. He was later released on bail.
Those in Harare, and Zimbabwe more generally, are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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