Zimbabweans seem to have largely ignored a call for a one day strike Tuesday to protest the country's economic crisis. Many say that planning problems by the strike organizers may be the reason the strike had such little impact.
The strike was called by a coalition of civic organizations. The leaders of the groups said they were taking the action to express anger at the deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe and to restore democracy in the country.
But many Zimbabweans never knew a nationwide strike had been called. Some just found out about it on Monday in a newspaper report. Others only heard about it when the police issued warnings against the planned action on the state owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, calling it illegal.
One of the strike leaders, Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National Constitutional Assembly, a group favoring constitutional reform, said the call for a strike was supported by several civic organizations, but that some preferred to remain anonymous.
The country's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), also supported the strike call.
Some people felt that a one day shutdown was not enough to send a message to the government, saying a sustained strike would be more effective. Those who knew of the planned strike criticized the organizers for doing little to inform the people about it.
Mr. Madhuku said that while flyers had been distributed country-wide urging people not to turn up for work, he acknowledged more groundwork could have been done to ensure its success. He denied that the strike was a complete failure, saying 35 to 40 percent of the work force heeded the strike call nationwide. He said the coalition is considering whether to call a second strike later this week.
The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Wellington Chibhebhe, and eight other trade union leaders were arrested on Monday for being party to the call for the strike. Police also report that 13 people were arrested on Tuesday for erecting barricades and stoning cars in an apparent bid to stop those who wanted to go to work from doing so.