Protests erupt in Zimbabwe after 150% fuel price hike

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Scores of citizens have taken to the streets in Zimbabwe after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% fuel price hike. 

Protesters barricaded roads and burned tires in the capital Harare on Monday, two days after Mnangagwa announced a massive fuel price hike in an effort to stem a deepening economic crisis.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe's economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest, undermining Mnangagwa's efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Police fired teargas to disperse youths protesting outside the high court in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, according to video footage from the Centre for Innovation and Technology, a local news service. Riot police in trucks patrolled downtown Harare while some shops remained closed.

Mnangagwa's announcement of a 150% increase in fuel prices was greeted with shock in Zimbabwe, where unemployment is estimated at 80%. The price was increased from US$1.34 for a litre of petrol to US$3.31 with diesel surging to US$3.11 per litre. 

The government sets fuel prices via the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Agency.

Residents of Epworth, 36km south of the capital, protested after the main labour federation called for a three-day strike starting Monday in response to the price increase.

The protests came just after doctors ended a 40-day strike in the country without coming to any terms.

The Zimbabwean government issued a statement in response to the protests, labelling them Western-sponsored acts.

"This brazenly unconstitutional plan, which has sought financial support from some regime-change organisations based in America and Germany, among other countries, represents a serious threat to our consolidating democracy, to the rule of law in our country, and to the authority of government and the state," the statement said. - NNN