A SHUTDOWN called by some shadowy groups and agents of illegal regime change seeking to cause anarchy and destabilisation in the country yesterday was a monumental flop after Zimbabweans ignored it and went about their normal business.
The calls for the shutdown were circulated on social media with threats of violence to peace loving Zimbabweans if they dared to defy the call.
It was business as usual in every corner of Bulawayo with police keeping an eye to maintain law and order.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Ignatius Chombo, commended the people of Bulawayo for ignoring calls to take to the streets that were circulated on social media platforms.
“I’m happy that the people of Bulawayo ignored the so-called demonstrations which are being sponsored by opposition parties and the West. They went about their business as usual and I want to commend them for the patriotic stance,” said Dr Chombo.
He said his ministry would not tolerate unsanctioned demonstrations anywhere in the country and police were prepared to assist anyone who felt disturbed by such actions.
“We’ve clearly stated before as the Ministry responsible for law and order in the country that there are some opposition political parties and associate groups that are agitating for violence and encouraging people to engage in violent activities for a number of reasons.
“We made it clear that we’re not going to tolerate unauthorised demonstrations that will disrupt law and order in the country. Police have been advised to take appropriate action against all demonstrations that have not been authorised,” said Dr Chombo.
The Bulawayo demonstrations were publicised on some social media forums and scheduled to begin at 10AM at the Large City Hall.
Two commuter omnibuses which had brought dozens of youths to the City Hall quickly made a U–turn after noticing they would not succeed as the place was manned by armed antiriot police.
When The Chronicle arrived at the City Hall, the commuter omnibuses were speeding off with youths who were wearing and waving regalia written Bulawayo Youths Arise (BUYA).
A police source said two youths were arrested in the afternoon for disturbing peace.
“One of youths tried to resist arrest by jumping off a police truck. We caught up with him and he was arrested,” said the source.
Acting Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Assistant Inspector Abednico Ncube yesterday referred questions to national police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi who could not be reached for comment.
Some shadowy groups have been unsolicited text messages, e-mails and posting subversive messages on social networking sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp in the hope of getting Bulawayo residents to engage in demonstrations.
The MDC-T has on several occasions tried to rally people to engage in street demonstrations in Bulawayo and these have all flopped.
In Harare, a survey by our Harare Bureau showed that people sending ignored the call and it was business as usual in the capital. In the Central Business District, retail shops and banks were open doing their usual business. Parents were also seen buying uniforms in preparation for the opening of schools next week. The situation was the same in the informal sector with popular markets such as Mupedzanhamo, Gulf Complex and the Glen View furniture complex opening for business. No case of violence was reported. There was a mini bus that was burnt under unclear circumstances along Bulawayo Road in the early hours of yesterday. Police said they had not received a report in relation to that incident and it could not be ascertained if it was related to the supposed shutdown. Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni (pictured) slammed the protesters who destroyed property in Harare last week. Said Minister Nyoni: “It’s not fair for protesters to burn the wares of small businesspeople and vendors. These are people who are trying to make a decent living. The vendors are doing everything possible to make an honest living. By burning their wares, you are pushing them into poverty. They also have the right to sell their wares peacefully and imagine, some of them could have borrowed the money to start their businesses. How do you expect them to pay back if you burn their products?”
Retailers and vendors who spoke to our Harare Bureau said protests were retrogressive and would not bring any food to their tables.
A vendor Mr Silas Mapfumo said the so-called shutdown was counter-productive.
“What do you get from protesting? At the end of the day, you will go back home and realise you want to eat. It’s better to engage in income-generating projects that bring food to the table. Soon, schools will be opening and children require fees. “How will I be able to pay the fees if I don’t sell my wares?” Ordinary citizens who were doing their business in the CBD said it was their democratic right to engage in their businesses without fear.
Abigail Kanyenze from Kuwadzana said: “I’ve every right to travel. What if I’m going to seek treatment at the hospital? What if I’m attending a funeral?
“Time doesn’t wait for stayaways and demonstrations. These dubious calls will become irrelevant because Zimbabweans have now realised that they are being taken for a ride by a few individuals who are benefiting from them.”
Last week MDC-T linked groups engaged in violent demonstrations that resulted in destruction of property in Harare.
Two vehicles belonging to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation and the police were burnt during the protests.
The protesters also destroyed shops and looted goods worth thousands of dollars.
Some of the ring-leaders of the protests were arrested and are now before the courts.
Although there were no cases of violence, police maintained a heavy presence in the city. See Comment on Page 4