Business has been paralysed in the Zimbabwean cities of Harare and Bulawayo, following a call for a national stayaway and shutdown demonstration by the congress of trade unions (ZCTU).
ZCTU called upon Zimbabweans to stay away from their workplaces, businesses and schools from Monday to Wednesday, as a way of protesting ‘the general astronomical price increases since last year against stagnant salaries’.
‘‘After wide consultations, the ZCTU General Council resolved to call for a nation wide stay a away with effect from midnight today following the insensitive and provocative increase of fuel price by the President of Zimbabwe.’‘
The strike on Monday became violent as protesters barricaded roads and burned tyres in a suburb of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, while police fired teargas to disperse youths protesting outside the high court in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo.
In a televised address late Saturday, Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would be more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased demand and “rampant” illegal trading.
Petrol prices have been raised from $1.24 a litre to $3.31 (2.89 euros) and diesel from $1.36 a litre to $3.11.
The president’s announcement came after fuel shortages which began in October last year worsened in recent weeks with motorists sometimes spending nights in fuel pump queues that stretch for kilometres.
ZCTU said the government had demonstrated a lack of empathy for the already-overburdened poor.
“You have cornered us and you leave us no choice. It’s time to mobilise every person who truly loves Zimbabwe.”
Teachers, who are not represented by ZCTU, are planning a nationwide strike from Jan. 22, and civil servants have threatened to join them.
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The acute shortage of U.S. dollars has made it hard for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to import not only fuel but also drugs and other goods.
Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 after it was wrecked by hyperinflation, and adopted the greenback and other hard currencies such as sterling and the South African rand.
But now there is not enough hard currency to back up more than $10 billion in electronic funds trapped in local bank accounts, prompting demands from businesses and civil servants for cash that can be deposited and used to make payments.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told a townhall meeting on Friday a new local currency would be introduced in less than 12 months.
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Thousands bid fare well to Mugabe..
Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe was honored as an icon, principled leader and African intellectual giant at a state funeral on Saturday, after a week of disputes over his burial threatened to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mugabe led Zimbabwe for 37 years, from independence until he was ousted by the army in November 2017, by which time he was viewed by many at home and abroad as a power-obsessed autocrat who unleashed death squads, rigged elections and ruined the economy to keep control.
He died in a Singapore hospital on Sept. 6 aged 95, far away from a country he left polarized by a raging political rivalry between its two largest political parties, ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.
His remains will be interred in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare in about 30 days, his nephew said on Friday, contradicting earlier comments that a burial would be held on Sunday.
On Saturday, Mnangagwa walked behind the casket carrying Mugabe’s body as it was wheeled into the center of Harare’s National Sports Stadium and placed on a podium decorated with flowers so that heads of state could say their farewells. Senior army generals and Mugabe’s wife and children followed, as a brass band played.
The 60,000 seater stadium was only half-filled.
In a tribute to his predecessor, Mnangagwa said Mugabe stood in defense of Africans. He urged the West to remove sanctions that were imposed during Mugabe’s rule.
“We who remain shall continue to hear his rich, brave, defiant and inspiring voice … encouraging and warning us to be vigilant and astute,” Mnangagwa said in a speech.
“A giant tree of Africa has fallen. Today Africa weeps.”
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party wanted Mugabe buried at the national shrine to heroes of the 15-year liberation war against white minority rule. But some relatives, expressing bitterness at the way former comrades ousted Mugabe, had pushed for him to be buried in his home village.
Walter Chidhakwa, who spoke on behalf of Mugabe’s family, said Mugabe was an icon who was determined and unflinching in pursuing policies like land reform and later the black economic empowerment program.
Mugabe left behind a country wrecked by hyperinflation, dollarization and deeply entrenched corruption.
But many Zimbabweans also remember Mugabe as their country’s liberator from white minority rule and for broadening people’s access to education and land
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