Harare (New Ziana) – Hugely advertised July 31 opposition protests against the government spectacularly flopped, with police saying no takers had appeared on the streets anywhere as of mid-day on Friday.
The opposition had called for the protests countrywide, ostensibly against top-level corruption, but the government suspected ulterior political motives after the discovery of the involvement of foreign diplomatic missions.
The protests, the latest of a series the opposition has called after losing elections in 2018, had been widely trumpeted on social media at home and abroad.
The opposition had threatened to push ahead with the protests even after the government had banned them on health and security grounds.
But as of mid-day on Friday, police said these had not taken place anywhere, and the situation in the country was calm and peaceful.
Ahead of the protests, police and other security forces had deployed heavily in key areas to thwart any violation of the ban.
But it appeared the public simply ignored the opposition protest calls, and either stayed home, or went about their normal daily routines.
Police spokesman assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi told New Ziana on Friday morning no incidents had been reported countrywide, and said the situation remained unchanged by mid-day.
“So far the country is very calm and peaceful, no reports of demonstrations or violence,” Nyathi said.
He added: “We are monitoring the situation cĺosely.”
The failure of the protests would be a huge blow to the opposition, showing not even the prevailing economic hardships in the country could help it win over the public to its side.
Analysts say this was the actual motive of the opposition in calling for the protests, and not the stand against corruption put forward.
On the other hand, Western embassies discovered to have had a hand in the protests as part of their countries’ long running regime change plot in Zimbabwe, had hoped the marches would ultimately unseat the government.
In banning the protests, the government had expressed fears of the health dangers these could pose to the public in the face of raging Covid-19.
The protests were likely to violate Covid-19 restrictions pertaining to social distancing and limits to gatherings.
Under the restrictions, which are being observed worldwide, no more than 50 people are allowed to gather in one place.
The government had also cited security fears, based on intelligence reports, that the opposition intended to use the protests to attempt to violently seize power.
In the past, similar marches by the opposition degenerated into bloodshed, and massive looting and destruction of property.