POLICE, assisted by the army, this morning sealed off all roads leading into the Harare central business district (CBD) to stave off national planned for this Friday.
Thousands of employees plying their trade in the Harare CBD were barred from making their way to work.
Opposition parties, churches, students and civil society groups have been calling for a national anti-corruption protest for this Friday to protest widespread graft in government and rising poverty under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
The main convener of the demonstration, Transform Zimbabwe president Jacob Ngarivhume and freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono are currently in remand prison facing charges of inciting public violence ahead of the 31 July protest.
Scores of activists mainly MDC Alliance members have also gone into hiding as State security agents hunt them for urging Zimbabweans to take part in this Friday’s demonstration.
However, this morning, thousands of city workers, and shoppers making their way into the CBD, were turned away at heavily manned security checkpoints in all roads leading into the city centre as the State prepares for a showdown ahead of Friday’s protests.
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister and MDC Alliance Vice President Tendai Biti has blasted Mnangagwa’s government. Posting on social media, Biti fumed, “The regime has blocked all access to Harare’s CBD. Citizens are being turned away without regard to the law & their documents of authenticity. A de facto State of Emergency is now in play. Repression & fascism will never be a substitute for legitimacy, constitutionalism & good governance.”
All drivers of vehicles, including ZUPCO buses along Willowvale Road travelling to the CBD, were forced to make U-Turns by the police and soldiers, according to one affected office worker.
NewZimbabwe’s videographer, Tatenda Dembedza failed to come into the CBD after police stopped vehicles saying they only entertained police officers, soldiers and nurses travelling into the CBD.
Addressing a Zanu PF Politburo meeting Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed State security would be beefed-up to block the protests.
“I want to warn the organisers of this ill-fated demonstration that our security services will be vigilant and on high alert to appropriately respond to their shenanigans,” he said.
“Zanu PF will never ever stand by and allow our people to be put in harm’s way. We will equally defend our independence and sovereignty to the letter and not betray the fallen heroes and heroines who paid the supreme sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.”