Is life in Zimbabwe worse than it was under former President Robert Mugabe?
Several people have been injured as police calmed down demonstrations by opposition members in the centre of the Zimbabwe capital Harare.
The opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had called off the protest at the last minute after failing to overturn a government ban, but dozens of its supporters were already out in the streets.
These protests have arisen due to citizens’ dissatisfaction about the government’s poor handling of the economy something that has seen an increase in the rates of inflation.
Also, many Zimbabweans have been hit by soaring prices of food and fuel, while foreign exchange shortages have led to a lack of vital medicines and other goods in the country.
Earlier this week, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party went to the court requesting a police ban lift on demonstrations and peaceful protests scheduled for Friday, as hundreds of police armed with automatic weapons, batons and water cannon set up checkpoints on major roads and blocked access to the party’s offices in the capital, Harare.
On Thursday night, the police banned any planned street demonstration by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) indicating that these protests would turn out to be violent and also warned that anyone who rioted would be committing a crime.
Police said that they will not fold hands and allow violence, destruction of property, intimidation, threats and clandestine night acts of violent agitation to take centre stage.
These protests come more than 18 months since Emmerson Mnangagwa took power after a military takeover ousted the veteran ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017.
Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party, which holds a majority in parliament, is pushing through the maintenance of peace and order bill – which the opposition and human rights activists describe as very harsh.
Meanwhile, various sources indicate that most locals believe that no one is safe at the moment and that the regime is baying for blood.
Zimbabwe is crippled by massive debts incurred during Mugabe’s rule and needs a multibillion-dollar bailout to prevent economic collapse.
However, continuing repression and a lack of tangible political reform mean there is little chance of international institutions offering major aid packages.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves and safari areas.
On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there are white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos and birdlife.
By John Dalton Kigozi