Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Harare and Bulawayo over high prices
Zimbabwean security forces on Tuesday fired on hundreds of protesters who barricaded roads and burned tyres over fuel price rises of 150 per cent.
Protesters in the capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo chanted slogans against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who introduced the price rises on Sunday in the face of the country’s worst economic crisis in a decade.
At least 13 people were injured by gunfire and 12 were arrested in the protests, human rights lawyers and doctors said.
Opposition to the policy and deteriorating living conditions has galvanised the biggest protests since unrest over last year’s delayed presidential election, in which six people were killed.
In Harare, helicopters circled as protesters burned cars and blocked roads with boulders, street signs and burning tyres.
A tollgate on the major route from the city to the border town of Beitbridge, in South Africa was destroyed, leaving only a steel gantry.
Businesses closed early and commuters and schoolchildren struggled to get home as taxis stayed off the streets. Internal flights were cancelled and low-cost African airline Fastjet halted flights to and from the country.
Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled under cash shortages and an inability of the Mnangagwa government to bring back international investment since the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year-rule in November 2017.
The president defended the fuel price hikes on a trip to Moscow on Monday.
“Zimbabwe is going through both political and economic reforms and these do not come easily. It will take time for things to settle and results to be shown,” he said.
But many protesters out on Zimbabwe’s streets on Monday directed their anger against the president, who came to power in a largely peaceful coup before winning a disputed election.
“He lied that our lives will improve, but things are getting worse by the day since he took over. Prices have been rising every day,” said protester Judith Chamambo.
On Friday, Harare saw long queues for fuel at petrol stations and hundreds of cars were abandoned on the roadside after running out of petrol.