6 July 2016

As protests hit Zimbabwe, SOS Children’s Villages keeps children safe

Harare, Zimbabwe, July 6, 2016 – This Wednesday, doctors, teachers and nurses in Zimbabwe began demonstrations over non-payment of salaries as the country faces increasing economic pressures and a cash shortage. The demonstrations led to a one-day national standstill that impacted local businesses and public transport.  
Protests began last week following a statutory restriction on the importation of a list of goods. Inhabitants of busy towns on both sides of the South Africa-Zimbabwe border demonstrated last week over the trade restrictions. On Monday, taxi drivers began protesting across the country. The ongoing unrest led to a call for a stay-away day in which people were advised to stay home from work as a form of nonviolent protest.
Ms. Knowledge Chikondo, National Director for SOS Children’ Zimbabwe, reports that the United Nations advised non-governmental organisations to take precautionary measures.
“As there was a public call for a ‘stay-away’, we advised our SOS teams to stay home where possible, to close schools where necessary, and to keep children away from the streets. I went out this morning and there is no public transport, which makes it very difficult to get around [the capital] Harare,” said Ms Chikondo.
SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe has programs in Harare, Maizelands, Bindura and Bulawayo. Field workers in communities where SOS Zimbabwe has outreach programs have prepared contingency plans in the event that protests become violent and threaten the safety of children. For the most part, towns have been quiet and peaceful.
Social media was blocked during the morning and Internet usage had been difficult, said Ms. Chikondo.
The Zimbabwean government has deployed police to hotspots. Some areas are still very tense, but in most towns streets are empty.