Violent protests that erupted in Zimbabwe on Monday after the government more than doubled fuel pump prices have claimed lives, the country’s national security minister said, without specifying the numbers killed.He said more than 200 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.Accusing the opposition and civil society organisations of being behind the protests, Owen Ncube said in a statement that “regrettably, this has resulted in the loss of life and property including injury to police officers and members of the public.The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights earlier reported that at least 13 people had suffered gunshot wounds during the protests.
The Morgan Richard Tsvangirai house, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headquarters in Harare, was also set on fire on Monday evening. The arsonists, according to the party’s presidential spokesperson, stormed the opposition party offices and attacked the four security officers manning the building.The MDC attack happened on the first day of the three-day nationwide stay away, which was called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), the labour umbrella body, in protest over the increase in fuel prices announced by the country’s head of state on Saturday.The new fuel price has been pegged at $3.11 and $3.31 for diesel and fuel respectively using the bond note and Real Time Gross Settlement.The demonstration, however, turned violent as roads were barricaded, shops looted and vehicles burnt.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Christopher Mugaga said the increase in the fuel price was long overdue as it had been unsustainably low. A 500ml bottle of cool drink fetched between $2.50 and $3, while fuel was being sold at $1.43/l. However, Mugaga said the government’s excessively heavy hand in the running of the economy was problematic — it should cease price controls and allow market forces to prevail.Mnangagwa is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday amid turmoil in Zimbabwe caused by the severe economic downturn and protests against fuel hikes in which five people were killed.This is Zimbabwe’s worst unrest since deadly post-election violence in August.He also said Zimbabwe would like to see Russian companies explore for gas and oil.Mnangagwa is also planning to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland next week to encourage international investment.