Police clashed with protesters in the Zimbabwean capital as the main labor-union confederation began a three-day national strike after the government more than doubled fuel prices to the highest in the world.
The stay-away comes as a foreign-exchange shortage has sparked scarcities of everything from fuel to bread, caused doctors to stay away from work and companies to cut or cease production because they can’t import raw materials.
The main industry body said in a letter to the government that businesses across the southern African nation are on the brink of collapse.
“The house is burning,” the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said in a letter to the Industry Ministry.
Residents in the Harare suburbs of Epworth and Mabvuku erected barricades of stones as police fired teargas to disperse protesters. Most of the city’s public transport was at a standstill, with fewer shops than usual open for business and schools asking pupils to return home.
“So far the stay-away has been effective,” Peter Mutasa, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said by phone. “We think it’s an act of courage by people who have stayed away. Considering that the strike call was made on a weekend, this has been a success.”
Price of Fuel Doubled
The ZCTU, which represents most labor unions in the southern African nation, started the action two days after the state more than doubled the cost of gasoline to $3.31 a litre and diesel to $3.11 a litre. The gasoline price compares with a global average of $1.08 a litre with Hong Kong, at $2.04, being the highest, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com.