HARARE — The national strike by government workers started Tuesday and is expected to gather momentum Wednesday when citizens are expected to join in what has been dubbed a national shut down day by political activists around the country.
There was limited or no services at schools, hospitals and government officials some civil servants stayed home or simply reported for duty but were not working.
Some schools, especially those in areas rocked by Monday’s violence, were deserted Tuesday while at major health institutions like Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals, services were limited with no doctors and a few nurses attending to patients.
Some of the workers, who refused to be named as they are not allowed to speak to the press, said Parirenyatwa Hospital discharged an unprecedented high number of patients Monday and Tuesday as the strike began.
Doctors had completely downed tools and when Studio 7 visited the hospital in the afternoon, some sections had closed down while others had very few patients.
Though most pupils in Harare’s southwestern suburbs attended school Tuesday, authorities told them not to come so school Wednesday.
Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the Apex council, a body representing government workers’ associations, said the job action was successful but was worried that some political activists were planning to hijack the strike.
She said theirs was purely a labor issue. However, Promise Mkwanazi of Tajamuka-Sesijikile movement said they are ready for the mass stay away.
He said Wednesday’s demo is about government’s failure to address their problems including its failure to pay civil servants and corruption, among other issues.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association added a positive voice to the mass protest saying they are fully behind the people.
The former freedom fighters called for calm during the peaceful protest.
Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, urged political parties to tell the supporters to be calm and churches to pray for peace.
He said it was imperative for the government to listen to the needs of the electorate, adding it was unfortunate that government ministers are not concerned about people’s problems.
At the same time, several companies have told their workers to stay home Wednesday.
Others like Theatre in the Park said they had cancelled Wednesday’s show for the safety of the actors and audiences.
Theatre in the Park spokesman, Robert Tapfumaneyi said the shows will resume when the situation normalizes.
Police have warned people against taking the law into their own hands, saying anyone who breaks the law would be arrested.
Today police maintained roadblocks at roads leading into the city center and buses that ferry civil servants were manned by armed police officers.
Indications are that the ruling Zanu PF party’s Politburo is expected to meet tomorrow. The highest organ of the party, outside congress, is scheduled to discuss the current state of the nation, among many other issues. – VOA