Panic buying and a stayaway as Zimbabwe fuel price bites

A motorist takes a nap on a bench near his car in a fuel queue in the capital Harare Saturday Jan. 12 2019

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced an sharp increase in fuel prices in a measure to improve supplies as the country struggles with its worst petrol shortages in a decade.

An Associated Press journalist saw three military trucks with soldiers headed for Chitungwiza, a large suburb southeast of Harare, the capital.

Teachers unions called a strike last week for better pay, but their calls went largely unheeded.

Riot police are seen on a street during a demonstration over the hike in fuel prices in Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, an.

Soldiers were deployed at a shopping centre in Bulawayo's township of Entumbane, where protesters looted shops.

The mainstream opposition in Zimbabwe appeared to have been taken by surprise by the disorder.

Zimbabweans responded to the call, but said they would only help identify those protestors if the police helped them identify police officers who shot protestors first.

"We have suffered enough", said the author Philani Nyoni, who was part of the protest in Bulawayo.

Both petrol and diesel prices have doubled, from R19 a litre to a whopping R45 a litre.

Low-priced carrier Fastjet says it's cancelling all remaining fights to and from Harare, Zimbabwe, for Monday, due to the unrest that's erupted over massive fuel hikes in the country.

Morrisson Nxulmalo, an unemployed 33-year-old Zimbabwean, told Al Jazeera he was prepared to protest until the government reversed the price increase.

Reuters reported on Monday that the drastic 150% overnight rise in Zimbabwe's fuel prices failed on Sunday to ease a nationwide petrol and diesel shortage caused by a lack of hard currency.

"This brazenly unconstitutional plan which has sought financial support from some regime change organisations based in America and Germany, among other countries, represents a serious threat to our consolidating democracy, to the rule of law in our country, and to the authority of government and the state", the statement said.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa said: "We have a national crisis which is descending into a humanitarian crisis".

He claimed that some Zimbabweans were taking advantage of the fuel crisis in the country to cause instability.

Others chanted opposition slogans and sang songs denouncing Mnangagwa, a former confidant of Mugabe who was elected as president in an election past year that the opposition said was rigged.

Other measures which Mnangagwa announced to ease the economic pressure include what he said was "a package of measures" to cushion its workers, until a full review of cost of living adjustment package due to take effect in April in the context of the current budget.

The action comes shortly after junior doctors ended a 40-day strike demanding salaries in United States dollars and better working conditions.

In Belarus, President Mnangagwa will focus on mining and agricultural equipment, having already agreed to cooperate in those areas and Zimbabwe is already benefitting from mining equipment and cooperation in the energy sector.

From the eastern countries, the President will proceed to the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland for his second appearance at the world economic stage.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, has pledged to revive the country's moribund economy and end its worldwide isolation.

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