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Harare still closed for business following post-election clashes

Aug 02 2018 18:51
Crecey Kuyedzwa in Harare

Harare - Harare’s central business district was not open for business on Thursday, as soldiers who were deployed on Wednesday allegedly instructed those who had turned up for work to close shop and go home.

Most businesses had, however, not opened for the day at all, with many employers prioritising the safety of their employees following Wednesday's clashes that left six people dead, according to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. 

The latest developments, which followed a disputed election outcome, stood in contrast to the election campaign of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration, which had been themed "Zimbabwe is open for business". 

Participants in the protests had forced businesses to close, burned cars and stoned office windows. A heavy-handed response by the Zimbabwean government and defence forces, meanwhile, had left many citizens opting to remain home for the day on Thursday. 

A few shops, including Pick 'n Pay and its rival, OK Zimbabwe, opened their doors by mid-morning, only to close again by midday, amid allegations that the army had given orders to close shop. 

"We have been ordered to close, and we cannot risk our employees considering what happened yesterday," said a security officer, who wished to remain unnamed, manning Pick 'n Pay's doors.

Money changers and street vendors, who have become a permanent feature on almost all the CBD's pavements, were conspicuous by their absence as they were replaced by members of the army in the streets.

Observers said the army did not want people in town ahead of the announcement of the presidential results, expected by 9pm on Thursday, as promised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Meanwhile, the US Embassy has since encouraged American Citizens to avoid the Central Business District "due to multiple demonstrations and reports of gun shots in the Central Business District".

"Due to multiple demonstrations and reports of gun shots in the Central Business District, the US Embassy encourages American Citizens to avoid the Central Business District (in general the area bounded by Samora Machel Avenue on the north, Fourth Street on the east, Rotten Row on the west, and Lytton Road/ Chinhoyi Street on the south)," it said.

"As the political situation in Zimbabwe remains uncertain, you should remain safely at home or in your accommodations as much as possible. 

"If you must go out, use caution, stick to routes familiar to you, and travel during daylight hours. Be prepared for traffic checkpoints."

The Embassy advised American citizens to have extra food, water and medication on hand, as well as to establish a communication plan with friends and family "so they know when to expect to hear from you".



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