Job boycott shuts down much of Zimbabwe as discontent grows

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A job boycott has shut down most of Zimbabwe as discontent deepens over increasing economic hardships in the southern Africa country.

Streets in the capital, Harare, and other cities were deserted Wednesday as workers, including teachers and doctors, heeded the call by activists on social media with the hashtag #?ShutDownZimbabwe2016.

Internet was down for the greater part of the morning and was slow when it returned. The government’s Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority issued a statement warning people against what it described as “irresponsible use of social media and telecommunication services.”

Police detained several journalists and forced them to delete pictures of skirmishes between police and Harare residents. Some people barricaded roads with stones, while others burned tires.

Acts of defiance and clashes with the police are rare in Zimbabwe, but protests have surged in recent weeks over growing economic hardship and alleged government mismanagement. Government workers who are yet to receive their June salaries boycotted work on Tuesday, and police in Harare on Monday battled rioters protesting alleged police harassment.

On Wednesday, at least 40 people were arrested for “staging an unlawful demonstration,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told journalists in Harare. Police also said an Australian tourist was arrested in the resort town of Victoria Falls for allegedly taking part.

“We are urging members of the public to ignore all social media messages inciting people to engage in violent activities,” Charamba said.

Also on Wednesday, at least 113 people appeared in court in connection with Monday’s protests. They were charged with public violence, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, an NGO that provided lawyers for them.

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