With President Mnangagwa in Russia, Zimbabwe descends into chaos over fuel taxes


January 15, 2019


Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Jan 14, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE


HARARE (Bloomberg) – Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa skipped the carnage by travelling to Moscow as protests erupted across his country on Monday (Jan 14), leaving 24 people injured and five possibly dead.

The protests, which spread from the capital, Harare, to Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo and some smaller towns, followed the government’s decision to increase taxes on fuel, more than doubling the price of the already scarce commodity and making it the world’s most expensive when compared to prices quoted by GlobalPetrolPrices.com.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said 13 protesters were treated for gunshot wounds on Monday. NewsDay, a Harare-based newspaper, reported the same organisation as upping the number of injured to 24 and five killed during the demonstrations.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said in an e-mailed statement its headquarters in Harare were broken into on Monday night and set ablaze by unknown assailants.

Mnangagwa’s trip to Russia was planned before the protests erupted. He’s also scheduled to visit Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan before flying to Davos, Switzerland, in an effort to raise investment for his economically blighted nation.

His absence leaves Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, a retired general, in charge of the southern African country.

Security Minister Owen Ncube told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the MDC, non-governmental organisations and civil society bodies were to blame for Monday’s violence.

“The prevailing security situation in the country is a culmination of a well-orchestrated series of events by the MDC Alliance working in cahoots with NGOs, civic society, youth organisations, pressure groups and individuals,” he told the Herald, adding that the “MDC Alliance activated its notorious terror groups”.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which called for three days of protests on Sunday, urged Zimbabweans to continue the demonstrations on Tuesday.

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