US warns its citizens travelling to Zimbabwe over ‘crime and unrest’

May 15, 2019
| Report Focus News

Harare ‑ The United States had issued a warning to its citizens over possible civil unrest in the Southern African country.

In a notice titled ‘Zimbabwe Travel Advisory, Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution’, released Tuesday, the US warned Americans to be vigilant in Zimbabwe “due to crime and civil unrest”.

“Violent crime, such as assault, carjacking, and home invasion, is common. Smashing the windows of cars with the intent to steal, which can harm the driver or passengers, is also common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Read the safety and security section on the country information page,” the advisory read.

It urged those deciding to travel to Zimbabwe to “stay alert and avoid openly displaying cash, stay away from political rallies, demonstrations and crowds, as well as monitor local media for breaking events and to be prepared to adjust plans”.

Americans were also urged to carry a copy of their passport and visa, while ensuring the originals are kept safe at their accommodation facilities, and also to keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.

The warning comes as tensions mount in the face of unending fuel shortages, crippling power cuts, the rising cost of living, runaway inflation and continued price hikes of basic commodities and increasing transport costs.

Zimbabwe experience a wave of violent protests in mid-January after government increased the prices of petrol and diesel, from $1.33 to $3.34 in local currency for petrol and $1.20 to $3.20 for diesel.

What followed later on was a deadly and brutal crackdown on suspected protesters by State security agents.

Human rights organisations said 26 people were left dead in the aftermath, while nearly 100 were left nursing gunshot wounds.

Several opposition political activists, legislators and non-governmental organisation leaders were forced to flee their homes.

Addressing a crowd gathered at Dzivarasekwa Stadium in Harare on Workers Day, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa warned that poverty and the worsening economic crisis would push people onto the streets to demonstrate against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union leader Peter Mutasa said demonstrations would be the way to go if things fail to change and that soon, they would announce their programmes.

Mutasa, who already has a case before the courts for allegedly trying to overthrow the government over the January protests, said arbitrary arrests would not solve the problem, while accusing government of failing to craft solutions for the economy.