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  • An arrested, injured man is seen at a hospital following protests in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 16, 2019.

    An arrested, injured man is seen at a hospital following protests in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 16, 2019. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 21 January 2019

The government's response to protests over the failing economy has been to increase repressive force, leading to 12 people being killed and many more injured due to horrific police beatings. 

The protests held in Zimbabwe over the governments’ alleged mismanagement of the economy have claimed the lives of 12 people, as news of a new government crackdown emerges.

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In August 2018, six people were reportedly shot dead during protests against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This was only surpassed by the deaths of 12 people—and many more beaten—during a three-day period in which a violent crackdown of protests ensued by government security organs, reported local organizations from Zimbabwe.

“We stand in solidarity with the organizers,” said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tobani Moyo.

The Coalition is an umbrella network which supports demonstrations organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which called for a shutdown of all public activities which followed a negotiation with the government over a rise in salaries in mid-January.

The proposed 10 percent salary increase, seen as meager, was rejected because it did not significantly improve living conditions for people, as it amounted to US$41 salary for the lowest paid workers.

The overall situation of the country in which the protests took place has been characterized by some as structurally compromised.

The economy is described as being “comatose” defined by a “run-away inflationary regime, failing capacity for industry and manufacturing industries, erosion of income of the citizens due to the multiple pricing regime, pegged to the US dollar and a failing health education, service delivery and other social services nets for the bulk of the peoples of Zimbabwe,” said Tobani.

For its part, the government has justified its security response, and have vouched to keep security “firmly on the ground,” reported The Herald.

The onset of the protests was the announced fuel hike of 150 percent in a country where unemployment runs up to 80 percent.

The government of Zimbabwe is seen by some as having reinforced a neoliberal economic regime and implementing policies leading to cash shortages which have plunged Zimbabwe's economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa's efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe. 

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