Active citizenry will change Zim situation

Source: Active citizenry will change Zim situation – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 7, 2016

Yesterday, Zimbabwe virtually came to a standstill as citizens — increasingly frustrated by the grim failures of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party — heeded the call by Evan Mawarire’s #ThisFlag movement to stay away in protest against harsh economic conditions, corruption, poverty and rampant injustices despite concerted efforts by government to portray the impression that everything was normal.

NewsDay Comment

The combined efforts of #ThisFlag, #Tajamuka/Sesijikile, Occupy Africa Unity Square and the support of other players — political or otherwise, in particular citizens of Zimbabwe — should serve as an example of how far Zimbabwe can go in terms of development if everybody put their heads together instead of fighting to succeed a 92-year-old individual.

The campaign is also useful for the debate around the influence of social media in Zimbabwe.

Clearly, what happened was proof that Zimbabweans do not need political parties to rally them together and confront their failed government over hardships the country is currently facing.

The MDCs, People’s Democratic Party and Zimbabwe People First, among others, all became watchers and none can claim responsibility for the success of the protests across the country.

It was the citizens, Zimbabweans tired of Zanu PF’s poor governance, pervasive corruption and human rights abuse, who heeded the call of a fellow citizen seeking to be heard by Mugabe’s administration, which has proved clueless in addressing inestimable political and socio-economic problems they are facing. This was about the people and what happened yesterday was ample proof that Zimbabwean citizens can successfully take their destiny into their own hands despite the heavy-handed approach demonstrated by the State.

Only the foolish will ignore what happened and if government is clever, it must understand the people’s anger and frustration at the system despite its vain efforts to claim the Zanu PF administration is still relevant. It is time that Mugabe did a serious re-look and self-introspection to see whether he can continue to hang on or relinquish power because the buck stops with him.

It is unfortunate that government has made an embarrassing solecism by shutting off communication via social media networks yet the State broadcaster is giving biased reportage, trying to portray a picture of normalcy when it is quite clear that nothing is normal right now. Everything has gone off the rails.

If the closure and antagonism by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe is not a human rights issue, we do not know what else is.

We believe the shutdown has indeed been a classic test of citizens’ power and ability to hold the government to account. The boldness witnessed across the country, particularly in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Chipinge and Gokwe among other areas where young people confronted Mugabe’s regime head-on, is proof that people have had enough and are prepared to defend their rights against a corrupt, criminal regime that is shredding Zimbabwe and stealing our children’s heritage.

Indeed, the people have spoken and the regime cannot afford to ignore the widespread protests. We believe more than anything, citizens need to sustain these peaceful means of demonstration until Mugabe’s government meets the people’s demands for basic service provision, democratic reforms, good governance and respect for the rule of law.

The shutdown in itself is not enough to bring about change and going forward Zimbabweans need to do more to inculcate a culture of active citizenry.