Public protests rocked Harare on Monday following a protest by commuter omnibus drivers and touts claiming that they are losing a lot of money at police roadblocks, which have also become money spinners for some police allegedly demanding bribes.
The riots in Epworth, Ruwa, Zimre Park and Damafalls quickly spread to other parts of the city, resulting in running battles between the police and members of the public.
Commuter omnibus drivers said they are losing at least $50 a day after being ticketed by the police, who also allegedly demand bribes.
Hundreds of people and school children were left stranded and anti-police responded by moving into the affected areas with water cannons and fired teargas to disperse the marauding demonstrators.
Several people including two police officers were injured. Several vehicles were stoned during the riots.
Businessman and community leaders in Epworth, Nelson Masiiwa, who tried to negotiate with the residents and police said the situation went out of control because the youths are just frustrated.
In central Harare, vendors led by their chairperson, Stan Zvorwadza, demonstrated against President Robert Mugabe’s rule and abuse of public funds by his government.
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner, Charity Charamba warned those inciting and engaging in violence that they will be dealt with severely.
She told a media briefing that police had been deployed in most parts of the city to deal with any public disorder.
Charamba though they have reduced the number of road blocks on the country’s roads, security roadblocks will remain as his her own words “the situation is tense.”
But despite Charamba’s warnings indications are that kombi operators from suburbs like Budiriro, Mufakose and Kuwandzana have joined the protests.
There were also protests in Marondera and Bindura while operators and residents in other towns and cities are expected to join the protests tomorrow.
Political commentator, Wellington Zindove said today’s riots are clearly an expression of people frustrations.
Government workers who have not received their June salaries are set to go on strike Tuesday.