THE situation in most parts of the country was calm and peaceful yesterday as the generality of Zimbabweans from all walks of life ignored the planned illegal protests by the anti-Government activists and some opposition political parties.
The protests, disguised as an anti-corruption demonstration, had been set for July 31. The architects behind the demo, Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and political activist Hopewell Chin’ono, are already languishing in remand prison following their arrest on allegations of inciting public violence.
Security forces remain on high alert with adequate manpower deployed across the country’s major cities and towns to thwart any illegal protests meant to destabilise the country.
Police were also ensuring that the 6pm-6am curfew is observed and roadblocks were mounted on all entry points into cities and towns with security forces screening motorists.
In Bulawayo, the situation was normal throughout the day with people, particularly in essential service, conducting their normal activities while others decided to stay home for their safety.
The city’s streets were largely deserted with most businesses and most shops especially in the city centre remaining closed. However, big supermarkets were open throughout the stipulated business hours. Both the High Court and magistrates’ courts at Tredgold Building were open to the public.
A Chronicle news crew visited a number of suburbs and observed that a few people and cars were on the streets. Most shops were closed and the presence of law enforcement officers was visible on most street corners in the city centre.
In western suburbs, most bus stops were empty and Zupco buses were waiting for passengers. A few shops were open in selected areas in Western suburbs and residents could be seen going about their routine businesses of the day.
In the eastern suburbs, it was business as usual with shopping centres teeming with activity.
Nkulumane Sokusile residents queue to buy their groceries in Bulawayo
Although the situation was calm, police and soldiers continuously monitored movements of people and vehicles.
In Gweru, peace prevailed as patriotic Zimbabweans ignored the illegal demonstrations. Roadblocks were mounted on all roads leading into the city centre with security forces screening motorists.
In Mkoba, Senga, Ascot, Mambo and the CBD, small retail shops, salons and big retailers such as DCK, OK and PNP were open for customers.
The Gweru magistrates’ courts were also open. Security forces intensified enforcement of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Those going to boreholes in suburbs such as Mkoba 15, 18, where there is an acute shortage of potable water were allowed to fetch water.
At roadblocks, people with questionable exemption letters were turned back.
Zanu-PF Midlands provincial chairperson Engineer Daniel Mackenzie Ncube commended the people from the province for ignoring calls for the demonstration.
He said the flopped demonstration was coming at a time when the Zanu-PF-led Government is busy mobilising resources to fight Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the Midlands province, we are happy that our peace-loving people stayed away from the demonstration,” he said.
Eng Ncube said Covid-19 is real and urged patriotic people to adhere to lockdown rules and regulations to curb the spread of the virus.
“From Mberengwa to Gokwe North, I’m glad to note that the people ignored the calls to join the illegal demonstration and stayed home. Those falling under the essential services reported for duty across the province and those who were not supposed to be at work remained at home,” he said.
As Midlands province, he said they stand guided by the directives given by the country’s leadership aimed at fighting Covid-19 as well as turning around the economic fortunes of the country.
Eng Ncube said President Mnangagwa’s administration is fighting corruption as well as reviving the economy.
In Gwanda in Matabeleland South, a peaceful atmosphere prevailed in Gwanda with most businesses and shops especially in the town’s central business district (CBD) remaining closed.
A few people and cars could be seen on the streets in the CBD as well as high density suburbs. By 3PM the streets in the CBD were deserted as shops had closed for the day.
Police and soldiers continued to monitor the movement of people and vehicles. They conducted foot and vehicle patrols in the CBD as well as in residential areas.
The situation was the same in Plumtree and Beitbridge with smooth movement of commercial cargo.
The borders are only open for commercial cargo, repatriations of returning citizens and bodies of locals who would have died in the neighbouring countries.