With so much happening in Zimbabwe right now we’ve prepared a straightforward guide to #ThisFlag and #ShutdownZimbabwe2016
The tumultuous events that started three months ago in Zimbabwe have caught the eyes, and the hearts, of Zimbabweans all over the globe. The scenes of protest crossing our newsfeeds have forced many of us to stop and re-evaluate our relationship to the Zimbabwean government and the country itself. Myself included.
Videos of police brutality amid peaceful citizens’ protests and other scenes of turmoil have simultaneously touched and overwhelmed. My contribution has been to shed light on our Great Zimbabwe from my keyboard, attempting to highlight through my writing the various campaigns from the #ThisFlag movement, to #ShutDownZimbabwe2016, to #BeatThePot, to the upcoming #ThisGown demo. These are events that will go down in Zimbabwean history no matter what happens next.
Last Tuesday in particular was a day we’ll never forget. A day in which Zimbabweans in the country and throughout the diaspora displayed true camaraderie. With so much happening we’ve prepared a straightforward guide to the Zim uprising of 2016.
#ThisFlag: The movement was started by Pastor Evan Mawarire in April 2016 when the 39-year-old Baptist minister and activist took to social media to record a video of himself explaining the colours of the Zimbabwean flag, what they represented and how that hasn’t been the case these past 36 years. In doing so, Mawarire reclaimed the Zimbabwean flag as a symbol of protest.
#Tajamuka: A movement to highlight and showcase how fed up the citizens are with Zimbabwe. In English, Tajamuka simply translates to, "having had enough, therefore doing something about it." The citizens are no longer willing to allow the government to dictate how they live in their own country.
#ShutDownZimbabwe2016: Mawarire set these peaceful protests in motion when he called for a national stayaway on 6 July. A second shutdown followed over the course of two days last Wednesday and Thursday.
#BeatThePot: Zimbabwe's women's-led campaign was founded by MDC-T Vice President Thokozani Khupe. Starting in the city of Bulawayo, thousands of women across Zimbabwe beat their pots as a symbol of the hunger and poverty they face under the ZANU-PF-led government.
The Key Players
The Government: There were five demands made towards the government in the aftermath of the first #ShutDownZimbabwe2016. A number of citizens said that if these weren't moved forward, a second shutdown would occur. To no surprise, nothing moved forward, and another shutdown took place last Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Citizens: The people of Zimbabwe have had enough of the ZANU-PF-led government’s rampant corruption, harsh economic conditions and injustice. The citizens have awoken a beast within themselves and are making their grievances known. It’s been 36 years of independence and the situation is still dire.
Pastor Evan Mawarire: The man of the hour, as we may respectfully say, and the reason Zimbabweans are as woke as ever. Pastor Evan Mawarire started #ThisFlag in April when he took to social media to speak peacefully about the situation in Zim and asked Zimbabweans around the world to do the same.
The Key Issues
Corruption within the government: The ZANU-PF-led government, which has been in rule for the past 36 years, are feeding the citizens a facade of dreams. Take the ignorance they displayed towards the missing 15 billion from the country, for instance. Rather absurd how such an amount of money just ceases to disappear. Then there was the case of the promised two-million jobs to citizens. In that same year, over 100 employees from different companies, who had worked for over 15 years or more, were let go from their jobs with no pension plan. Itai Dzamara is a brave young man who comes to mind, who is now an abducted youth activist. This is the thing with the Zimbabwean government––if you don’t play the game with the moves they want, you’re eliminated.
Workers not being paid salaries for months: Zimbabwean employees have been working for months with no pay. The main excuse has been that the country has no money. Ironic considering the many ministers that can be spotted in exuberant luxury cars. Due to employees not being paid, there is a dire need of desperation in which it’s not uncommon to see well-educated citizens resorting to selling airtime or tomatoes on the side of the highway.
Police who are meant to protect and serve us are beating up peaceful protesting citizens: Live footage of the police beating peaceful protesting citizens to a pulp have been all over the internet after the commencement of the #ThisFlag movement. Citizens finally have the courage to stand up to their marginalizers and say enough is enough.
Twitter Feeds to Follow
@TrevornNcube: The publisher of Mail & Guardian is a Zimbabwean now living in South Africa. However, he has a very broad view on the politics happening in Zimbabwe.
@Wamagaisa: A lawyer, academic and writer on Zimbabwean law and politics with unbiased and uncensored views on the events currently happening in Zimbabwe.
@ConcernedZimCit: Citizens speaking out on everything that has to do with the #ThisFlag movement, and calling out the Zimbabwean government.
@NewsDayZimbabwe: Always has the latest breaking news on Zimbabwe, wherever it is.
@ZimMediaReview: Unbiased account reviewing the media content of Zimbabwe.
The fight for a better Zimbabwe has only just begun. Here's what you should keep an eye on
#ThisGown: "This Gown Demands Job Demo," in which Zimbabwean graduates will demonstrate to demand jobs, is scheduled to take place on 25th July.
Demonstrations for a better Zimbabwe: From Zimbabweans all over the globe. There's one happening in London on 23 July at Richmond Terrace, Opposite 10 Downing Street.
Lerato Chiyangwa is a Zimbabwean communications and public relations executive based in Dubai. Keep up with her on Twitter at @leratochiyangwa.