Govt sets up fund for companies looted & torched during violent protests

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By Staff Reporter

THE government has set up a special fund to assist businesses and communities affected by the violent protests which rocked the country last month.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed the development during a post-cabinet media briefing held in Harare late Tuesday.

“Following a presentation of an interim report by the ad-hoc committee chair on emergency measures to bring relief to business and communities affected by recent violent disruptions cabinet noted the need to bring urgent relief to the communities and businesses affected,” she said.

“Therefore, cabinet has approved that a special fund be set up for that purpose. The ad-hoc committee was tasked to expeditiously work out the finer details of and modalities of the fund and report back at the next cabinet meeting.”

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called nationwide protests last month after the government more than doubled fuel prices.

The first day of the demonstration was characterised rampant looting with some shops and public transport vehicles torched around the country.

Botswana-based retail chain, Choppies, which has supermarkets in high density suburbs was among the worst affected.

The company revealed that it suffered stock loses and damage to property worth about $10 million to looters and arsonists.

“During the stay away disturbances, nine of our shops in Zimbabwe’s high-density areas were looted, with stock valued at approximately $2,5 million being forcibly taken away by the demonstrators,” group CEO Ramachandran Ottopathu said in a statement Wednesday.

“Of the nine shops that were attacked, four were torched by yet to be identified suspects whom we hope the law would catch up with in the very foreseeable future so that they can answer for their actions.

“The total value of the equipment and assets that were destroyed by the fire has been put at close to about $6, 5 million.”

The government unleashed soldiers in response, resulting in 12 people being killed while dozens were injured, many with gunshot wounds.

More than 1,000 people were arrested in campaign condemned as disproportionate by local and international rights organisations.