ZIMBABWEANS yesterday ignored desperate calls by a shadowy, pro-MDC Alliance group, Tajamuka and its affiliates to shut down the country on an anti-Government move to demonstrate against President Mnangagwa’s administration.
Social media was on Sunday awash with information from the group and civil society urging people to stay indoors in what they termed “Shut down Zimbabwe”, a code for violent demonstrations to bring business to a halt in the country and topple the Government.
Snap surveys in Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces established that the shut down was a total flop as people ignored calls on social media by rogue elements within opposition parties and civil society to stay away from work as a way of pushing President Mnangagwa out of power.
Different associations including the International Cross Border Traders Association warned its members to avoid travelling this week following reports that there would be a shut down in the country.
In Bulawayo, it was business as usual with a heavy police presence in the city centre, industrial and residential areas as police demonstrated their readiness to maintain law and order after hearing of the planned demonstrations.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they will continue to maintain law and order.
“As part of our mandate, we’re maintaining law and order. Nobody has the right to stop another person to go about doing their duties as long as what they’re doing is lawful,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He urged Zimbabweans to ignore the messages and continue with their lives “without hindrance”.
In Midlands province, it was business as usual too.
Commuter omnibuses were also busy ferrying people to their various destinations as they also totally ignored the stayaway call.
“We are doing our business, we have been busy at work. It’s been a normal Monday morning where the traffic is hectic and we are still doing business,” said Mr Simon Chingwere who drives a kombi which services the City-Moab Highway.
Mr Takaona Chuma, an informal trader said he was in the Kwekwe Central Business District at around 6 am to do his orders.
“I was at my vending stall at around 6am because I was supposed to receive my delivery at that time. It’s a normal day and we can’t rely on social media reports. We don’t get food from social media so we have to work,” he said.
It was the same normal business in schools with teachers reporting for duty. “We only heard there were some social media calls to stay indoors but we can’t listen or take instructions from social media. We have our teachers’ representatives, we did not hear anything from them so we can’t just stay home because of social media threats,” said a teacher at Chaplin High School.
In Gwanda, Matabeleland South it was business as usual as people ignored the call for them to strike. People could be seen pacing up and down the streets as they went about their daily activities. Shops in the town were open throughout the day while schools conducted lessons as usual. Vendors, transport operators and other service providers also conducted their activities as usual.
Workers from various government departments, organisations and institutions reported for duty and various offices were serving the public as expected. A peaceful environment prevailed throughout the day.
In January, at least six people died while businesses lost goods and property worth millions of dollars after violent protestors went on a looting spree and in some cases torched the buildings after looting. Supermarkets, service stations, butcheries, pharmacies, bottle stores and bars were targeted in the protests. Some motorists had their vehicles set on fire.
Bulawayo was the worst affected in the country.
Industrialists said the economy could have lost business amounting to $300 million over the three-day forced shut-down.
President Mnangagwa is on record calling for peace in the country and emphasising that violence will neither revive the economy nor rebuild the nation.