Australia updates travel advice for Zimbabwe following violent protests

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AUSTRALIA has updated its travel advice for Zimbabwe following protests in response to fuel price hikes and shortages.

The price of petrol in the African country more than doubled over the weekend after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on January 12 it would rise from US$1.24 (AU$1.72) a litre to US$3.31 (AU$4.59), with diesel up from US$1.36 (AU$$1.89) a litre to $3.11 (AU$4.31).

A filling station attendant fills a car with fuel in Harare, Zimbabwe last July. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Mr Mnangagwa, who flew to Russia on Sunday for a five-nation economic and diplomatic visit, said the government planned to grant a fuel rebate for manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport businesses.

The price increase prompted the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions to launch a #shutdownZimbabwe campaign encouraging people to not go to work on Monday.

Video footage of protestors blocking roads with rubble, throwing stones and bricks at vehicles and setting cars and police stations alight circulated via social media overnight.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated information on its Smartraveller website on January 15 for people travelling to Zimbabwe.

A spokeswoman said the reissued advisory included information on violent protests in parts of the country, including in Harare and Bulawayo.

“Due to worsening economic conditions there have been widespread disruptions, street blockades and violent protests in parts of the country,” the update said.

“Avoid demonstrations and minimise travel around town.”

The overall level of advice for travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution” has not changed since a cholera outbreak last September.

The protests, which have reportedly resulted in deaths, are expected to continue today and tomorrow.

Mr Mnangagwa became president in late 2017 when a peaceful campaign for political change backed by the armed forces compelled the then 93-year-old Robert Mugabe to resign after 37 years in power.

The change initially created an optimistic atmosphere in the country and amongst Zimbabwean-born people living abroad, including in Perth.

However since Mr Mnangagwa was declared winner in last July’s presidential election and subsequent clashes between opposition supporters, soldiers and police, cash and fuel shortages have eroded public confidence in the president and ruling party Zanu PF.