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Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 11:00 UK

Zimbabweans react to strike call

Zimbabwe's riot policemen walk on a street in Harare on April 14, 2008, outside Zimbabwe's High Court


BBC News website readers in Zimbabwe told us what happened on the ground during Tuesday's general strike.

The strike was called by the opposition, in a bid to force the authorities to release the results of last month's presidential election.


I stayed at home until about 14.00. I drove to work in the centre of Harare, going through a roadblock manned by police. The city was peaceful although not as busy as it normally is at this time of the week. A sufficient number of people stayed away but not enough to make a real impact. Of our staff of fifteen, none came to work. A friend of mine who works at a major bank says about half of the employees were in the office. Otherwise people are going about their business and the police are walking around the city, but there is no violence at the moment. I had heard that two buses were set on fire earlier and that the roads from the townships to the city had been blocked off but are now clear. People cannot afford for the stay away to be indefinite - they would simply starve to death.
Donald, Harare

The mass action was poorly communicated to the masses. I for one did not get to know the full details. However some of my fellow employees at our company have managed to stay away following disturbances in the suburbs where they are living. In Warren Park suburb west of Harare about 10 kilometres out of town a bus was torched. In Kuwadzana, a bus that developed a technical fault on the way from Botswana caught fire and the state media rushed off to it to report and attribute it to MDC as perpetrators. Our hopes now rest on the deliberations at the U.N Security Council. Our army is hungry and the security system can easily be breached. It is not as tough as the KGB. American soldiers come and help us with the freedom that we voted for, please.
Chrissy, Harare

The soldiers were on our door steps as early as 04.00 armed to the teeth. Without the help of the world, the ruthless regime of Mugabe is difficult to see out.
Simon, Harare

Morgan Tsvangirai himself is to blame for the flop of stay aways. He called for them when he was Secretary General of the ZCTU (trade union) and the first two were successful. I think he enjoyed the attention and kept calling for stay aways, and they lost their impact as we came to realise they were no longer bringing results.
Tafadzwa, Gweru

There is no use in staying at home. The stay away wil not produce the desired results and most people will probably ignore it, while others have not heard about it at all or have only seen it on the BBC. I took a walk around Harare at around 13.00 pm and to me it seemed like business as usual. My only worry is about going back home as I might be assaulted for going to work by some rowdy youths.
Zororo, Harare

Most people here are self employed, many doing illegal dealings such as selling foreign exchange. Being employed is now worthless as salaries are far less that the cost of living. If they stay away, it means no income for them. If they strike, they will fail to feed their families. Calling for a stay away is a waste of time. Most Zimbabweans hate violence so they will never strike. With the threats made by the police and army no one wants to secrifice his life in Zimbabwe. It does not matter that shops are empty and the fuel depots are dry. In Zimbabwe, we do not strike. God will intervene and set us free.
Tinarwo, Mutare

It shows Zimbabwe is a democratic country. People are free to stay at home or go to work. The MDC has nothing to offer us. We all know who their backers are and we will never bend down to their demands. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. It is very unfortunate that the MDC are trying to sell the soveregn of the country for 30 pieces of silver. They have called for sanctions so that Zimbabweans use their bellies to vote and not their brains.
Oliver, Harare

I am participating in the strike today - admittedly and unfortunately, there is never a great response to MDC or ZCTU calls for strikes. Limited media, police harrassment and beating, threats of violence, general feelings of helplessness and lethargy plus potential loss of precious income all combine to ensure that the stay-aways are not as effective as we would like. But, in a country where we are so powerless, it seems nonsensical not to take any opportunity, no matter how small, to protest against this illegal regime.
Laura, Harare

The stay-away has not been effectively communicated in the country. There was no coverage at all about in in the local press or electronic media hence many people were caught by surprise today. However its not "business as usual" as most shops and businesses are operating with minimal staff and some having only management running the day. I have been moving around the city and it is all quiet. However there have been some disturbances early in the morning in the volatile high density surburbs and most people from these areas have not reported for work. Most people I have been in contact in are just playing it safe and those who made it to work are planning on going home early in the afternoon as they fear they may not find transport back home.
Gregg, Harare

I totally support the stayaway. Strike action can be meaningful if properly co-ordinated. Typically, the MDC have done a very poor job of raising awareness of the strike or lobbying business to support it. We must recognise that striking cannot be the only means of protest against the undermining of the electoral process in Zimbabwe. The current regime is illegitimate and must be prevented from seizing power through a re-count of votes long after the ballot boxes left the custody of participants' representatives. There is much to be done and all Zimbabweans must now step up and play their collective parts.
Brenda, Harare

The situation is very tense. Riot police are everywhere on the streets and people are being harassed by them. I have seen at least two buses being burnt this morning and a few cars have been stoned. It is because people are not happy with the ZEC (Zimbabwe Election Commission) for not telling us the results.

In the rural areas people are being beaten up by the militias. This started last week. I can confirm that two people have died from injuries they received from beatings in the Mtoko area. Right now their bodies are at the Parirenyatwa group of hospitals.

Right now no one from the cities can travel to the rural areas in case they get killed. I travel all over the country because of our projects. People are dying of hunger. There is no food, no transport, no clean water, no healthy facilities and no qualified staff. The stories you hear saying solders are training, are lies. They are actually going in rural ares terrorising people. Binga is one area that has never voted Zanu PF and now they have gone into Binga and started opening fire as if it is war. People are confused and afraid.
Lovemore, Harare

Though businesses are open for fear of being called saboteurs, people have not turned out for work in Harare. The mini buses that ferry people to work were not doing so today. I am in the industrial site of Msasa and there is no one at work.
Meso, Harare

What benefit would I get by staying away? Politics is an occupation and those involed in it should stay away, as for me I cannot afford to lose a day's work. Those who went to war in the liberation struggle, what benefits did they reap? Only the top politicians and their families benefitted. So I mind my business, and Bob, Morgan etc should not expect me to be a pawn on their "chess board".
Simbarashe, Harare

Any strike needs to be planned well in advance and co-ordinated involving the churches and a whisper campaign among the police and military, if it is to be successful. But what other options do we have? We tried voting them out and we have been ignored and brutalised and our neighbours think there is no crisis. If they all closed their borders, things would move very fast.
Violet, Harare

I certainly would love to participate but the problem seems to be poor organisation by the opposition. They should speak with one voice because as long as Tsvangirai and his guys remain arrogant they are in for a suprise because this might end up becoming a case of a failed transition due to selfishness.
Allan, Harare

As much as I would want the tyrant out, I will not participate in a strike as this is hopelessly ineffective against a regime of this kind. My only hope is that the economy will eventually kick his butt out of State House.
Peter, Maputi

I am actually at work, although half-heartedly. Our head office is closed. The problem about the stay away is more to do with poor communication rather than fear of losing jobs. I also think employers could have easily complied with the strike it had been called initially for a day or two rather than being an indefinite strike.
Nkululeko, Bulawayo

I will not participate in a stay away or strike for several reasons. Firstly, it will not achieve anything. If SADC [Southern African Development Community] itself is 'apparently failing' what will the local people (who have been oppressed for close to a decade now) do? Secondly, the government is waiting for that. Any form of strike will give them a reason to sit on the whole thing and again, the world will just watch. Maybe Zimbabweans should just give up and let the world watch us die.
Joe, Harare

The worst possible thing for the country right now is a stay-away. Industry and commerce are under enough strain dealing with power cuts, raw material shortages and lack of foreign currency to deal with lost production due to stay-aways. There is no doubt that mass action is required to stop the rot here but simply staying away from work wont suffice.
Nick, Harare

I will definitely join the strike. I think it is high time we Zimbabweans should support Tsvangirai and not just to wait for him to do everything for us. It pains me that as educated as l am, l cannot afford a decent life and cannot even afford to buy cotton wool for my menstrual cycle. Life is tough here and l really support the strike.
Faith, Harare

I will participate in the strike. It is in the interest of a national cause
Joseph, Harare



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