As of 19 August 2019, a strong presence of riot police officers and military vehicles is reported in Bulawayo -- Zimbabwe’s second largest city -- in response to a planned opposition protest in the city that day. Despite a low turnout of protesters thus far, security forces are conducting patrols throughout the city center and Bulawayo’s surrounding townships. Reports indicate that the majority of businesses in the city are open and operating normally. Government officials banned the demonstration, citing security concerns and noting that the event would lead to “public disorder.”
Analyst Comment: Police authorities banned a similar demonstration in Harare, the capital, on 16 August, but protesters gathered despite the ban; security forces forcefully dispersed the demonstrators, causing several injuries. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance has announced that similar demonstrations are planned in Gweru on 20 August, Mutare on 21 August and Masvingo on 22 August; as such, increased security measures are likely to remain in effect throughout Zimbabwe through at least 22 August in anticipation of the planned anti-government protests.