Civic Groups Blame Shut Down Flop To State Intimidation

By Johannes Chin’ombe

Masvingo, September 01, 2016 – CIVIL Society Organisations in Masvingo have attributed the failure by Zimbabweans to heed Wednesday’s national shutdown call to cases of state intimidation.

The national shutdown is a call on citizens by pressure groups to stay away from their work places as a way of demonstrating their disgruntlement towards massive joblessness, poverty, cash shortages, high level corruption, among a slew of grievances against the current government.

In a communiqué on Wednesday, Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) wrote that arrests and assaults of activists ahead of the big day made it difficult for locals to take heed of the stay away call.

“The arrest and persecution of activists, coupled with police brutality and the heavy presence of the police in the streets of Masvingo made it extremely difficult for people to take heed of the call to stay away. People now fear victimisation,” MURRA wrote.

The Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development Trust (COTRAD) however noted that counter messages by state agencies on social media got people confused if they were to follow the official shut down call or not.

“Business started low in the morning and improved as the day progressed. People actually waited to monitor the situation on the ground and ultimately, all people reported for duty. This was mainly because there were some messages which circulated postponing the stay away to Friday and we suspect these were sent by state apparatuses to jeopardise the stay away call,” wrote COTRAD.

Christian Voice International (CVI) – Zimbabwe President, Pastor Tapfumaneyi Zenda however said the shut down call flopped because people wanted actions that are more progressive than turning back to actions which were done on the initial stages of the revolution.

“The shutdown was never meant to be a success. Citizens want a progressive movement in search for results than repeating one and the same thing. We did shut down on 6 July and thereafter were protests.

“Currently, we are doing peaceful protests to show dissatisfaction and in the future, people will be looking forward to march to either parliament or state house only to be heard. To understand what I am saying, watch the space and see how successful the next National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) demonstration will be since its progressive than static,” Zenda said.

Streets of Masvingo were however manned by heavy police detail.