A military helicopter reportedly fired tear gas at demonstrators burning tires on a road of the capital Harare, on Tuesday, January 15, amid the second consecutive day of protests to denounce a price hike which more than doubled the price of fuel. Soldiers are currently deployed in the capital to patrol streets and disperse any demonstration attempts. According to local reports, violence are also ongoing in the eastern city of Mutare, where people reportedly attacked passenger buses and destroyed some shops. Zimbabwe police also reportedly fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Bulawayo.
Businesses, banks, and schools are closed as of Tuesday, and public transport vehicles are reportedly grounded in most part of the country. Furthermore, access to the internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have reportedly been cut off. Continued telecommunication disruptions are possible in the coming days.
A heightened security presence, along with associated business and traffic disruptions, are likely in major cities at least through Wednesday, January 16. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Violent anti-government demonstrations erupted in Harare, Bulawayo, and other cities on January 14, amid a three-day general strike called by labor unions and civil society groups. At least five people were killed and some 200 others arrested.
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 Sunday 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.
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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