Fearful Mash East businesses shut down but operators snub anti-sanctions protests

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By Mashonaland East Correspondent

Marondera: Shops and informal traders on Friday, in this small town and other parts of Mashonaland East, decided not to open for business fearing reprisals from state security agents and militant Zanu PF youths if they opened for business on a day designated by government as a public holiday to protest the continued existence of Western imposed sanctions.

A march was held in the capital city, Harare on Friday, but no official event took place in Marondera or other parts of the province.

The SADC Anti-Sanctions Day was declared a public holiday earlier during the week by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, hard-pressed vendors and other traders chasing the elusive dollar, usually open for business on other national public holidays and often report brisk business.

But on Friday, the informal traders including popular bars and bottle stores, chose not to open for the day.

Only a handful high school pupils who were writing their final year examinations were observed walking to school.

“We got word that we were being monitored and if we opened for business, unspecified action was going to be taken against us,” one informal money changer, who asked not to be identified, said.

His colleague added, “We thought it was better to stay indoors than open shop as it seems the State is getting ruthless on us as vendors. Recently, a vendor died at the hands of the police in Harare and we felt it was best if we stayed home than to travel to Harare and march for nothing.”

Other sources in surrounding areas such as Wedza, Macheke, Murewa and Mutoko said shops and other informal traders had decided to stay at home than risk opening for business.

“However, the silence here in Murewa does not mean that people have travelled to Harare for the anti-sanctions march, but that people are in fear and have decided to remain at home,” another shop owner in Murewa said.

The government announced that it had set aside 15 buses to ferry people from Mashonaland East province to Harare for the anti-sanctions march.