ELast week, very early in the morning, Inokentiy Tinashi left very early on his little wood and tin in Epport, a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Harare, to travel seven miles to the city center in the hope of seeing his wife. ,
Epworth witnessed some of the most violent acts of violence during the protest closure, which led to a new crisis 12 days ago and some of the most brutal repressions that followed.
Twelve people were shot, hundreds wounded, and more than 1,500 detainees and subsequent crackdowns, according to Harare's observers and diplomats. Every day reports of beatings, attacks, kidnappings, and arrests from police and military are reported.
Among them was Maria: 25, unemployed and mother of a five-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, she was unlikely to be a hustler. Like other detainees, she is accused of breaches of public disorder, which could mean a lengthy sentence.
"There was violence outside of our home and riots and problems, so we stayed all day long," says Tinashi, a thin 36-year-old who earns bananas. "We are not political people. But the police came when we slept. They broke our door. I hid in a wardrobe. They took Maria.
The immediate cause of the suspension – closure of all businesses and non-essential services to show anger – was a sharp increase in fuel prices commissioned by the government. Overnight, gasoline went from $ 1.50 per liter to over three dollars. The rise of the situation came amid the worsening economic situation that has already hit people in places like Epworth very hard.
Fourteen months ago, Robert Mugabe, who has been in charge of Zimbabwe since 1980, was overthrown by the army. The rule of the 94-year-old autocrat has left the country with collapsing infrastructure, huge debts, no currency at its own and extreme unemployment rates. Mugabe's successor is 76-year-old Emerson Mongawa, a ruling party that immediately promised political and economic reform. Neither did it come, or at least not fast enough, to overcome the crisis.
In the center of Epport, where 160,000 people live in small huts, shelters and houses, there is a market junction and a number of bars where young men eat brown offals, drink inexpensive beer and swim pool. Many still bear the signs of the battles with the police – and the beatings – of the previous week.
"A hungry man is an angry man," says 36-year-old Robert, who lives in Epport all his life. "People wanted and expected change, but things are much harder than the previous president. Young people are not happy … No schools, no work. "
Prices of all goods have risen in recent weeks, and one cabbage on the battered stalls on the Epworth market now costs one dollar. Local people describe teenage girls forced to work for sex; boys addicted to domestic drugs.
Outside of the small local health clinic, Mercy Mapeki, a mother of three whose husband is sick and unable to work, says the family has often gone without food. "Sometimes I hire some [maize] of the neighbors, but these days have nothing. If the children are sick, we pray, "said the 32-year-old.
Early signs after Mugabe's fall were relatively positive. Mnangagwa's victory in July's elections was disputed, but the campaign was much more free than ever for decades. Senior ministers spoke about past mistakes and how Zimbabwe returns on the right path. The former British colony was "open to business," they repeated. There were signs that foreign investment is desperately needed to create jobs and growth.
But widespread skepticism at home and abroad seems justified when six civilians were shot by soldiers during protests in Harare two days after the election. Many have suggested a rigid faction in the ruling party to be responsible, dissatisfied even with the limited reforms that could convince investors and international multilateral institutions to provide the means to restore the economy.
Today all the other illusions were broken. Reprisals in the last two weeks have been the most extensive for at least a decade, and the Harare veterans are worried that it is far from over.
"This may be the beginning of a concerted effort to destroy any kind of opposition that could last for weeks or even months," said an old man, recalling a regime of 2008 violence that resulted in 270 deaths.
Significantly, targeting the opposition, trade union leaders and civil society activists continues even after Mnangagwa interrupts a foreign trip to promise dialogue and punishment for security officials who have committed excesses.
Harare's diplomats admit that it is almost impossible to determine where the real force is among the competing institutions, agencies, personalities and factions. The result is a sense of deep insecurity and fears that Zimbabwe is moving in unexplored waters where everything is possible.
An innovation in Mnangagwa is the "accelerated" test of the vast number of detained in recent days. "The rule of law is completely abandoned. It's a parody of justice, "said Derek Matsikak, an analyst at Harare at the Institute for Security Studies.
Every day last week, 56 accused men and five women from Epworth went to court nine in Harare's central court to face court. They are represented by only five lawyers who managed to gain 48 hours to interview their clients.
Few of the accused are likely to be released; even those who have fallen wrong like Mary. Most will face months, even years, in jail.
Three prominent activists are accused of subversion. Among them are Evan Mavarar, a preacher and activist known for his resistance to the Mugabe rule.
It is also unclear how the government can stop the failure of the economy without external aid.
Sustainability Gunyana, an independent economist at Harare, who works closely with the government, said Zimbabwe "takes a painful pill at the moment," but there may be "quick wins." "We are in transition … We can expect things to get worse before they get better, but I do not expect the suffering to prolong for a long time," Gunnya said.
A measure of tranquility has returned to much of Zimbabwe now as traffic approaches normal levels in cities and the Internet, closes for a few days and works again. But few are optimistic in the long run.
Marion Mikasha, 40, waited from Harare's court to see her husband, a 51-year-old carmaker in Epport, who was engulfed by the tragedy during riots last week when he tried to work in the center of town. on a bicycle.
"Life is so difficult," she said. "Right now we are so confused. We still live with fear.