HARARE - Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short a foreign tour to deal with unrest over fuel prices. Police used force last week to crush protests triggered by the price of fuel being increased 150 percent.
Mnangagwa cut short his five-nation trip Monday after visiting Russia, Belarus, Khazakstan and Azerbaijan. He was supposed to end it by attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
A local doctors' rights group said it had treated 68 gunshot wounds and scores of cases of assault after Zimbabwe's security forces broke up protests in Harare and Bulawayo.
Opposition supporters blamed police and army troops for the violence. During the weekend, officials said the gunfire and beatings were the work of "rogue elements" and not Zimbabwe's security forces.
Meanwhile, on Monday, police arrested Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions President Japhet Moyo, as he tried to leave the country. He and another leader of the protests, pastor Evan Mawarire, are now facing subversion charges. Another 600 protesters are facing charges of violence.
Morgen Komichi, the vice chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused the president of directing his security forces to beat and harass activists and labor leaders involved with the protests.
"I was shocked. I do not expect any leader to behave in that manner,” Komichi said. “A good leader always engages, instead of taking this high handiness of bringing the army, armed police, violence, deploying ZANU-PF youths to go and beat up people in response to what people would have said. It is unleadership. It is unpresidential.”
Harare Polytechnic College senior journalism and international politics lecturer Alexander Rusero says the government is no different from the one led by former president Robert Mugabe.
“It is uncalled for. It is very unfortunate,” Rusero said. “This government had a lot of aspirations, hope, but it is proving to be a false start. The last thing for Zimbabweans to wish for was Mugabe after 37 years of bastardizing the country."
Mnangagwa took power in November 2017, following Mugabe's forced resignation after 37 years in power.