Zimbabwe warns brutal crackdown is 'just a foretaste' of things to come

Crackdown

Zimbabwe is under an internet blackout as authorities extended a communications ban to cover emails, while civilians ventured outside to stock up on food after days of deadly protests over fuel price hikes.

The DA claimed Ramaphosa and his government "seemed intent on sitting on their hands over the Zimbabwe crisis in much the same manner as (former president) Thabo Mbeki's failed diplomacy".

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said in a statement that more than 240 people had been assaulted while 466 people arrested in the past week.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed concerns over reports of "excessive use of force, including live ammunition" by security forces, and urged the government to "find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances".

"While we condemn the violent behaviour of some protestors, and unlawful acts such as arson and looting, we are deeply concerned that Zimbabwe's security forces have acted disproportionately in response".

As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Johannesburg, "a Zimbabwean medical association says its doctors have treated more than 150 people since Monday - some with gunshot wounds, others with dog bites".

Security forces in Zimbabwe have been accused of carrying out night raids and beating suspected protesters in their homes, according to human rights groups.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the rise was aimed at tackling shortages caused by an increase in fuel use and "rampant" illegal trading.

Zimbabweans had briefly rejoiced when Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe, who was forced out in late 2017, thinking the new president would deliver on his refrain that the country "is open for business".

Econet, the biggest internet provider, told customers it had been ordered by the government to re-open the internet "except for specified social media applications".

Charamba told the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper the government would review some provisions of the constitution adopted in 2013, which he said were being abused by proponents of democracy.

Zimbabwe recently made a decision to ban Internet access to its citizens and this was confirmed by the owner of the largest telecommunications company in the country.

Police patrol in Harare, Zimbabwe on January 20.

Otherwise, "adequate security" was in place to ensure that people in Zimbabwe go about their lives, army spokesman Overson Mugwisi said.

The State went on to switch off Internet connectivity on Tuesday before it was temporarily restored to afford government to pay civil servants as well as attend to other global payments. Some government workers could no longer pay for public transportation.

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