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Africa
Zimbabwe strike 'unlikely' to occur
Local residents appear to have given making money higher priority.
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2008 08:05 GMT
There were fears of a violent police crackdown of the protests during Tuesday's general strike [AFP]
The Zimbabwe opposition's call for a nationwide strike has been met with a muted response, as local residents carry out their daily commute to work.

The aim of the strike, planned for Tuesday, was to voice anger at the delay in releasing the results of the presidential election.
Police have been deployed throughout the southern African nation in anticipation of trouble.

In an attempt to avoid a possible confrontration with security forces, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), advised the population to stage a "stay-at-home" strike.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, said: "The calls that have been made inside Zimbabwe are not for any physical confrontation [with the police]."

"The calls that have been made are for ... staying away from work. Stay inside. So there won't be anybody in the street."

Work priorities

Al Jazeera's Supa Mandiwanzira, reporting from Harare, said that local residents seem to be ignoring calls for the strike.

He said: "Many people are waiting for transport, going to work."

"They are ignoring calls by the opposition to hold a strike. The MDC may not have the ability to effectively mobilise the population to hold this strike."

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, and his supporters were hoping Tuesday's strike would put pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the results.
 
But the impact of any general strike was likely to be muted as unemployment in the country currently stands at more than 80 per cent.

Previous demonstrations called by the opposition have resulted in a low turnout as the few people still in work did not want to risk a day's wage.

Security preparations

Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesman, said police had been deployed throughout the country and "those who breach the peace will be dealt with severely and firmly".

Tsvangirai insists the MDC has won last
month's presidential poll [AFP]
The MDC has been accused by police of trying to cause mayhem with the strike.

"The call by the MDC Tsvangirai faction is aimed at disturbing [the] peace and will be resisted firmly by the law enforcement agents whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in any part of the country," Bvudzijena said.

Army trucks, some equipped with water cannons, moved on Tuesday through opposition strongholds around Harare and riot police and other officers set up checkpoints.
   
"This is a routine security exercise," said a police officer at a checkpoint in a township controlled by the MDC.

Petition ruling

Zimbabwe's high court on Monday rejected a petition for the immediate release of the March 29 election results, prompting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to issue the strike call.
 
"The matter has been dismissed with costs," Justice Tendai Uchena, the presiding judge, said in his ruling.

Already there has been a fatality since the high court's dismissal of the opposition's petition.
 
The MDC's vice-president announced on Monday that one its members had been stabbed to death by supporters of Zanu-PF.
 
Thokhozani Khupe said: "We are sad to inform you that we have lost one of our members ... who passed away on Saturday after being stabbed by Zanu-PF supporters at his homestead."
 
A police spokesman confirmed the death, but said it did not initially appear to be politically motivated.

Tensions rising
 
Tensions have been steadily mounting in Zimbabwe over the poll, which Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, says he won outright.
 
But the governing Zanu-PF party, led by Robert Mugabe, the president, is preparing for a run-off.
 
The MDC says Tsvangirai was the outright winner of the presidential poll, and that Mugabe is holding back the results as a result.
 
They say Mugabe is preparing a violent response to his biggest electoral setback - his party also lost control of parliament in a vote held the same day.
 
But the ZEC says it is simply still verifying the votes.
 
The ZEC has ordered a recount of 23 constituencies, a move likely to delay results even further.
 
The Zanu-PF party says that neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won an absolute majority in the presidential vote and a run-off will be necessary.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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