Zimbabwe strike ends in arrests

Opposition MDC suffers set back as supporters who heeded strike call are arrested.

There were fears of a violent police crackdown on  protests during Tuesday's general strike [AFP]
There were fears of a violent police crackdown on  protests during Tuesday's general strike [AFP]
The MDC had called for workers to stay at home indefinitely after the high court on Monday rejected its petition calling on the electoral commission to immediately declare the outcome of the March 29 poll.
Mounting anger
The aim of the strike was to voice anger at the delay in releasing the results of the March 29 presidential election.
Police were deployed throughout the southern African nation in anticipation of trouble.
In an attempt to avoid a possible confrontration with security forces, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party, advised people to stage a “stay-at-home” strike.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, said: “The calls that have been made inside Zimbabwe are not for any physical confrontation [with the police].


“The calls that have been made are for … staying away from work. Stay inside. So there won’t be anybody in the street.”

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The strike call came after Zimbabwe’s high court rejected a petition for the immediate release of the election results.

“The matter has been dismissed with costs,” Justice Tendai Uchena, the presiding judge, said in his ruling on Monday.
Work priorities

Al Jazeera’s Supa Mandiwanzira, reporting from Harare on Tuesday, said that people in the capital appeared to be putting the need to make money ahead of political protest.

“They [Zimbabweans] are ignoring calls by the opposition to hold a strike. The MDC may not have the ability to effectively mobilise the population to hold this strike,” he said.

Previous demonstrations called by the opposition have resulted in a low turnout as the few people still in work did not want to risk a day’s wage.

Unemployment in the country currently stands at more than 80 per cent.

Bvudzijena said police had been deployed throughout the country and “those who breach the peace will be dealt with severely and firmly”.

The MDC has been accused by police of trying to cause mayhem with the strike.

Tsvangirai insists the MDC has won last
month’s presidential poll [AFP]
“The call by the MDC Tsvangirai faction is aimed at disturbing [the] peace and will be resisted firmly by the law enforcement agents whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in any part of the country,” Bvudzijena said.

Army trucks, some equipped with water cannons, moved on Tuesday through opposition strongholds around Harare and riot police and other officers set up checkpoints.
“This is a routine security exercise,” said a police officer at a checkpoint in a township controlled by the MDC.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, was hoping the strike would put pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the presidential poll results, which he says will show he won an outright victory.
Tensions have been steadily mounting over the vote, which Tsvangirai says he won.
The ZEC says it is still verifying the votes.
Further delays
A recount has been ordered in 23 constituencies, a move likely to delay results even further.
The ruling Zanu-PF says that neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won an absolute majority in the vote and a run-off will be necessary.
After the MDC lost its case, the party’s vice-president announced on Monday that one of its members had been stabbed to death by supporters of Zanu-PF.
Thokhozani Khupe said: “We are sad to inform you that we have lost one of our members … who passed away on Saturday after being stabbed by Zanu-PF supporters at his homestead.”
A police spokesman confirmed the death, but said it did not initially appear to be politically motivated.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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