Anti-riot police came out in full force in Bulawayo`s western suburbs Monday, amid reports of another planned stay away.
The police unit in full gear was spotted in the early hours of Monday in various suburbs including Cowdray Park, Mpopoma, Pelandaba, Njube and Entumbane and roads leading to the city centre.
This comes after a wave of protests that hit the city a month ago resulting in the deaths of 12 people according to human rights groups, looting of shops and destruction of infrastructure.
Once again social media platforms were used to spread messages of another stay away which was meant to start on Monday and end on Friday.
“From Monday 11 February to Friday 15 February 2019, we need to tell our political leadership once again that enough is enough. Zvakwana zvakwana.
“Prices of basic commodities are still going up despite assurances that things will improve. The announced fuel price hikes are causing more pain. Why should we suffer everyday like this?
“The standard of living has become unbearable while our leaders continue to enjoy themselves at our expense, the taxpayers.
“Our kids are not going to school as teachers are totally incapacitated. They cant pay our teachers and civil servants a decent salary yet they fly themselves to seek medical services abroad (sic),” read part of the message circulating on the Whatsapp platform.
“Soldiers should return to the baracks and allow us to exercise our constitutional right, to protest and petition our leadership. We are not at war. No more bloodshed. Taramba isu (sic)”.
The police and the army have been accused of orchestrating brutal attacks on civilians during the crackdown that followed the mass protests.
Human rights groups accused the security forces of beating up civilians, including women and children as well as using live ammunition on protesters.
However, in a recent interview aired on France24, President Mnangagwa denied claims of human rights violations by the security forces.
“We would want to see evidence where the 17 people were killed, where were they buried. Let us have the relatives who will say I lost a son, I lost a daughter, I lost a cousin, I lost a relative by the hands of the army (sic),” the president said during the interview.
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer and politician David Coltart reacted angrily to President Mnangagwa comments on the army crackdown saying there was no political will to bring the soldiers who committed the crimes to book.
“It is clear that there is no political will to prosecute the soldiers who murdered on the 1st of August. The soldiers deployed in the last 4 weeks know that nothing has been done to bring their comrades involved in the 1st August killings to justice so they knew they could act with complete impunity when they were deployed on the 14th January this year. Mr Mnangagwa is accordingly completely disingenuous when he suggests that soldiers will be brought to book,” fumed Coltart.
Coltart said the interview was telling that the Zanu PF government had no respect for the rule of law.
“When this regime shows it is serious about respecting the rule of law – which will be demonstrated by the arrest and prosecution of the known soldiers who murdered in the 1st August 2018 – then the world will know that it is determined to uphold justice. Until then all interviews like this will do, in the court of international opinion, is confirm that this is a regime which is guilty of crimes against humanity,” he charged.