Just as the Shona maxim Kamoto kamberevere kakapisa matanda mberi warns that a small fire can ignite a huge inferno, the citizen-led struggle against the Robert Mugabe regime began like a small fire. Report by Tapiwa Zivira
Source: Video: The rise of the citizen voices in Zimbabwe – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 23, 2016
Opposing Mugabe’s regime and pushing for change was a territory for the opposition political parties and citizens who wished to do so had to belong to some party.
This, at least was what the Zanu PF propaganda machine had achieved- to label anyone who queried Mugabe and his government’s rule an opposition activist.
So people stayed away.
Apathy reached its highest level in 2013 after the main opposition MDC-T suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of Zanu PF led by the then 89 year old Mugabe.
This was at a time when there was a general economic stability buoyed by a power-sharing government that had been in place between 2009 and 2013.
There was a general feeling that Zanu PF had to be given a chance and with the comfort of the then functioning economy, many decided to mind their business.
It was also at this time that prosperity gospel was at its peak, with its major focus making people believe they could be rich if they tithed enough, bought enough anointing oils, among many other things offered as gateway to riches by the charismatic prophets, pastors and church leaders.
Two years down the line, the economy was getting worse.
Suffering continued, abated by company closures, job losses, and before long vending was the major occupation of former labourers and graduates.
Robert Mugabe, as an executive president did not make things better as he paid no attention to the corruption in his government.
Instead,to the dismay of the taxpayers, Mugabe chose to meet his growing health demands with sustained trips that chewed into the Treasury, while expending his energy to containing the power struggles in his party.
Government had turned into a coterie of self-serving officials living large at the expense of the suffering masses with pictures of obscene mansions circulating in the press and social media networks.
If the nation was to be a child, then government was to be an errant father squandering money on booze while the family starved.
Scandals were unearthed, but no meaningful arrests and convictions were made, pointing to a system that tolerated corrupt behaviour.
But there was no-one to raise a voice against this.
While the opposition parties like the MDC-T still maintained a huge following, their impact can only be measured at the next election date, which would be in 2018.
Meanwhile, the witness was finding space on social media since the launch of the third generation technology in 2009. Social media was creating a virtual sphere which became a meeting point for sharing of ideas and frustrations.
Then an unknown citizen of Zimbabwe,Pastor Evan Mawarire, posted a video appealing to Mugabe to end the suffering and reign in errant government officials.
And he posted again, and again….
And the hashtag #ThisFlag, in tribute to the Zimbabwean flag, which is a symbol of our country, was born.
A trend was born, and before long, Zimbabweans were using videos, with flags draped around their necks, to express themselves using different hashtags, among them #Tajamuka, #Mugabemustfall, #Beatthepot etc.
It spilled into the streets, igniting a series of protests that are still going on worldwide as consensus that the Mugabe-led government has failed, and does not seem to have the capacity to bring a positive change to the lives of the long-suffering Zimbabweans.
That small fire is now a huge inferno fuelled daily by the citizens frustration and as the voices grow louder with more postings on social media each day, we have made a compilation of a few of the videos posted just this week.
The government has since responded to these voices by working on a Draconian Cyber Law that is set to try to curtail these voice.