The British and United States (US) governments have warned their citizens travelling to Zimbabwe to be cautious of the tense political environment in the country where anti-President Robert Mugabe protests have rocked the nation.
In the past months, multitudes of civilian protesters — together with opposition parties — have taken to the streets to register their displeasure with Mugabe’s failed 36-year leadership.The protesters accuse the 92-year-old leader of grossly mismanaging the country’s economy, turning a blind eye to corruption, refusing to implement electoral reforms and reducing educated Zimbabweans to paupers.
They also demand that three years down the line, the nonagenarian leader — who has consistently blamed the citizen unrest on Western countries, accusing them of seeking to topple his regime — must fulfil his 2013 election promises, particularly to create 2,2 million new jobs.
According to a September 6 travel advice note posted on the British embassy’s website, citizens were warned to avoid areas where demonstrations may be held, ostensibly because there was possibility that some might turn violent.
“There have been demonstrations in towns and cities in recent months, some of which have been violent. You should avoid areas where demonstrations may be held, or where there are large gatherings of people,” the note read.
“If a demonstration or disturbance is taking place, leave quickly and don’t attempt to watch or photograph it. Monitor this travel advice and local media (including radio and social media) for updates,” the note said, further advising the citizens to “follow the British Embassy, Harare on Facebook (UKinZimbabwe) and twitter @UKinZimbabwe”.
“There have been a number of civil disturbances and demonstrations in Harare, the surrounding suburbs and roads into Harare during July 4, 2016, which the authorities have used force to suppress. Further demonstrations are likely in the next few days, and may affect Bulawayo and major urban centres as well as Harare. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies,” the travel warning reads further.
The British government also advised its citizens of the “increasingly fragile” economic situation and hunger in the country caused by two consecutive years of El Nino-induced drought.
“The Zimbabwean dollar is no longer valid currency. Almost all transactions are conducted in US dollars. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a shortage of cash. It’s not currently possible to make cash withdrawals using an international bank card.”
The US government also warned American citizens travelling to Zimbabwe, cautioning them to avoid areas where there could potentially be demonstrations.
“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the US Embassy said recently.
In a repressive move to quash the escalating court-sanctioned anti-government protests, heavily armed police have brutally attacked, tear-gassed and water cannoned protestors.
The US and British governments warnings come as the police have banned demonstrations in the capital until October 15, citing that the protests are a threat to public order and security, with a court ruling against a challenge of the ban yesterday being postponed to next week.