By Robert Tapfumaneyi
LOCAL retailers say they cannot continue to endure the looting of their premises and stocks that usually accompany demonstrations, and fear if the 31 July mass protests are held, their businesses will collapse as they fear the protests will be violent.
Opposition parties have been calling for demonstrations on Friday against rising poverty and high-level corruption in government.
However, retailers and millers say the damage associated with the violent protests is not covered by their insurance policies and they are left exposed financially.
These are some of the concerns raised by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) in a joint statement ahead of the #31July demonstration.
“We are concerned that if the planned demonstrations are to proceed, we stand to suffer irreparable harm, as has happened before,” the statement reads.
“Such losses, arising from burning of shops and looting of their inventories, in the past are a matter of public record.
“For instance, in January 2019, we experienced a loss of over US$2.8 million to rioters in the form of stock which still remains not fully paid. This risk cannot be covered by insurance and leaves the victims fully exposed.”
GMAZ and CZR added; “Properties were damaged, shops and milling plants were burnt down and looting activities of all manner and kind were rampant.
“Most of our members who were victims of this wanton destruction of properties failed to recover from this blow and have seen themselves out of business. The few who recovered are still in debt owing to these barbaric acts of violence.
“In as much as the organiser of these planned demonstrations have a constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate, their actions must not supersede our rights to the use, enjoyment, and protection of our properties.”
The country has been in a panic mood since it was announced that there would be street protests on 31 July against the rampant corruption and deteriorating economic and political environment.
The chief organiser of the protests Jacob Ngarivhume has since been arrested and appeared in court charged with inciting violence and is in remand prison after he was denied bail.