IT is within the constitutional rights of every Zimbabwean or organisation in the country to protest as a way of registering their disquiet over any matter.
Social-citizen group Tajamuka has called on its members to stay away from work this week in protest over the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country.
But what we have seen over the years is that such protests have not delivered any favourable results and, in extreme cases, only left a number of people dead and others brutalised by the military and police.
Against such a background, it is important to heed calls by the International Cross-Border Traders Association president Denis Juru, who noted that in the past, such stay aways ended up in violence, with people shot by security forces, cars burnt and shops looted.
A lot of business people have been left counting the costs after losing their property and goods to hooligans during such protests, while the targets for the protests remained safe.
The danger about such protests, especially if they turn violent, which is always bound to happen if the protests are hijacked by hooligans, will give the security arms just cause to respond in a high-handed manner, because they have a responsibility to maintain law and order.
Dialogue, under such circumstances, is the best step forward. Everything necessary should be done to maintain peace and order in the country. We need to inculcate a culture of dialogue for the good of the country and its citizens.
The memories are still fresh in the minds of many Zimbabweans about the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-led demonstrations in January which turned violent and resulted in bloodshed, with 17 people shot dead and close to 100 injured. We do not want a repeat of that.
There is no way shutting down the country can work because the majority of people are self-employed, mainly in the informal sector. A week away from the job will mean starvation for their families, while those calling for the shutdown will not have their normal lives disrupted.
Whereas any organisation can call for peaceful protests, there is never a guarantee that it will be peaceful because other extenuating circumstances may intervene. This is something to think seriously about.