Zimbabwean prices of basic commodities have lately risen very sharply, and protests have been widespread. Internet providers in Zimbabwe have been ordered to close, and would risk losing their licences if they refused, so cheap and secure communication has become impossible.
That said, it seems that the stories of protest turning into massive looting are true. I have been able to study a video of a shopping centre (where the friend who showed it to me does his shopping) and in which the shops were completely emptied. The boys in the crowd of looters were laughing and enjoying the excitement; the women walked purposefully, as if going to or from an everyday market, and the men perpetrated the serious thefts. One in the video got away with a plough, suitable to be pulled by two beasts. This particular centre was not burnt down, but some have been.
The food shops will find it difficult or impossible to restock, because there is no credit, so that prices will continue to soar, even of such necessities as mealie meal and cooking oil. Meanwhile the looting will allow the army and police to persuade themselves that they have good reason to “punish” the people.
It seems that army and police are operating together, with the army playing the leading part. Contrary to some reports, I understand that they are not confining themselves to households that oppose ZANU P F, the ruling party, but are going door to door indiscriminately. If the house contains young or youngish men they “punish” them on the spot, and then take them to the police station for more beating. The more fortunate have then been sent home, but others are still in custody. Some have already been charged in magistrates’ courts, for looting and related offences, and no doubt many more will be.
Exactly how all this #stateviolence has come about is not yet clear, but it seems likely that the army is following orders from General Constantinople Chiwenga (@VpChiwenga), the vice-president, who is acting president during @PresidentEmmersonMnangagwa’s travels to Russia and Davos. I do not know whether separate orders are issued to the police through their own minister. It remains to be seen how the President will react to to the chaos at home, which cannot be helpful to his international fund raising efforts.
Much of the above is anecdotal. Can readers add any up-to-date information?
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