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[UPDATE] MDC HQ set alight as Zim braces for more protests

Around 200 protesters have reportedly been arrested as citizens continue to demonstrate against a massive fuel hike of 150%.

A police officer removes tyres set by protesters during a “stay-away” demonstration against the doubling of fuel prices on 14 January 2019 in Emakhandeni township, Bulawayo. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - More violence is expected on the streets of Zimbabwe on day two of the national shutdown, with the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) headquarters in Harare being set alight.

A member of the MDC’s national executive Nqobizitha Mlilo has confirmed to Eyewitness News that the building was torched and vandalised on Monday night.

Around 200 protesters have reportedly been arrested as citizens continue to demonstrate against a massive fuel hike of 150%.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is currently on an official trip in Moscow, made the announcement on Saturday.

The strike is planned to end on Wednesday, but Mlilo says it’s reached a tipping point with concerns that it might continue for longer.

“Now the issue is around resolving the economic question. Very soon, the demand will change to Mnangagwa and the Zanu-PF government to resign, unless there’s a dialogue to resolve the issue.”

Mlilo has also painted a bleak picture of what could happen to the country if urgent steps are not taken to resolve the underlying issues: “I will not be surprised if certain sectors of the military in Zimbabwe tell Mnangagwa that his plane can’t land back in the country; a coup begets another coup.”

WATCH: Zim protests turn violent

ANGER OVER FUEL PRICE HIKE

Zimbabwe is bracing for the second day of a general strike on Tuesday as anger mounts over a huge hike in fuel prices.

Just months after the election of a new president and promises of new hope for Zimbabwe, the country is back in turmoil.

This has added strain to a population already battling rising food prices, a weak currency and a near collapsed public service system.

Despite this, the government of Mnangagwa is blaming the opposition MDC and other groups for the violence that broke out in the streets of Harare and Bulawayo on Monday.

The final toll of Monday's violence still has to be confirmed. Rights doctors say they treated 12 people for gunshot wounds.

After threats against private schools circulated on WhatsApp, several schools have told parents not to send in their children.

Despite the protests and with Mnangagwa out of the country on a five-nation tour of Europe, deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi has called on Zimbabweans to go to work today.

He claims that police will be heavily deployed in residential areas to make sure commuter buses aren't blocked as they were on Monday.

It is not clear how many Zimbabweans will want to take that risk and leave their houses.

Meanwhile, media watchdog MISA says that five reporters have been caught up in demonstrations in Harare and Bulawayo.

Protesters looted shops, burned tyres and set police cars on fire as anger boiled over in a population that’s been pushed to the brink by years of economic difficulty.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has said Zimbabweans have the rights to protest but must remain peaceful and has urged the public to identify people filmed taking part in the violence.

At least two reporters were part of crowds teargassed in Bulawayo, according to the Media Institutes of Southern Africa.

There’s been a call for ambulances to be allowed through blockade after doctors complained there had been difficulties reaching the injured.

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