News Brief

Here’s What We Know About #ZimShutDown2016

A citizen-organized “stay-away” in response to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s corrupt government and the nation’s collapsed economy has transformed the capital Harare into a ghost town.

Zimbabweans are fed up with President Robert Mugabe’s brutality, failed government and sputtering economy.


Though Mugabe, 92, ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, it’s the first time since the Congress of Trade Unions led shutdowns in the mid 1990s that Zimbabweans demonstrated by vowing to stay indoors Wednesday in a national "stay-away" day called #ZimShutDown2016, CNN reports.

Many of Zimbabwe’s urban centers turned into ghost towns as citizens from a variety of professional backgroundsteachers, doctors, nursesabandoned work, forgoing income, in an effort to put pressure on the government to address the nation’s economic collapse that has rendered the local currency virtually worthless and has produced a cash shortage. Consequently, according to the Financial Gazette, nearly 80 percent of the population live in abject poverty.

Compounded economic hardship, joblessness, and unpaid salaries for the month of June have pushed citizens, regardless of political affiliation, to respond to the social media campaign and messages transmitted through mobile app WhatsApp to shut everything down, according to the Financial Gazette.

Leading up to Wednesday's protest, Supa Mandiwanzira, minster of Information, Communication and Technology, warned citizens against using social media to transmit politically charged messages.

"It's important for everybody to understand that anything you post on social media or over the top services can be traced back to who started them," Mandiwanzira explains to the state-owned Chronicle.

There were complaints on social media that the messaging app has been blocked for several hours Wednesday morning. The Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe responded saying, we are "gravely concerned with the apparent disabling of the WhatsApp platform."

"Our patience has been strained. Our members are hungry and angry. Government cannot say it is broke given its high level [of] opulence, while our members are suffering," Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, says according to CNN.

Zimbabwe police have responded with tear gas and arrested approximately 100 people between the capital Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls on Wednesday in connection to looting. And on Friday, a warehouse on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa burned to the ground, referred to as the Beitbridge Revolt. The arson is reportedly a symbolic gesture for the recently implemented import restrictions on the most basic goods. Three people have been arrested in connection to the arson.

Pastor Evan Mawarire has been credited for initiating the social media campaign #ZimShutDown2016, which has attracted thousands of followers. In April, he started hashtag #ThisFlag urging Zimbabweans to mobilize in order to dismantle "rampant and runaway corruption by government and government ministers."

"We have called for a complete shutdown of the country today in protest of the government that has completely failed to look after its citizenry‚ and failed to listen to the demands of its citizenry‚" Mawarire tells local radio of Wednesday's protest.

He also has urged citizens to stage another stay-away on Wednesday and Thursday next week if the government fails to respond to their demands.

Also protest group Tajamuka, recently connected to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai as well as demonstrations in Harare and Beitbridge, have called on citizens to continue the momentum of the previous two days by marching to the State House on Saturday.

“We are just doing this as angry citizens seeking solutions to our problems. We need jobs, we need a better (life),” the group says.

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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