ZIMBABWE: Cleric Leads Anti-Government Protests

HARARE JULY 8, 2016 (CISA) – Evan Mawarire, a Zimbabwean pastor has launched a social media movement against the policies of President Robert Mugabe’s government.

On July 6, much of the country was shut down by a “stay away” general strike, organized by Mawarire’s movement – #ThisFlag – to get Zimbabweans to rally round the national flag and speak out against poor public services, 85 percent unemployment, widespread corruption and delays in getting state salaries.

“We are getting to a place where we are now expressing that we have had enough. What we are doing is about one action, one voice concerning our frustration. Enough is enough,” Mawarire said, reported Reuters.

President Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and his critics say he has presided over the destruction of a once-promising country with policies such as the seizures of white-owned farms.

Mawarire’s #ThisFlag movement says it will hold another strike next week lasting two days if demands are not met, including the sacking of corrupt ministers, the payment of delayed salaries and the lifting of roadblocks that residents say are used by police to extract bribes.

In recent days, citizens have taken to Twitter and Facebook to vent their anger against a government they see as detached from their daily struggles. Other social media movements have also appeared, such as Tajamuka – ‘We refuse’ in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – which launched spontaneous demonstrations in the last month.

Last week, protesters stormed a hotel in downtown Harare protesting against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s stay there since December 2014, saying this was extravagance by a government which says it has no money.

“We are saying no to government expenditure which is senseless. They are broke because they have mishandled the economy,” said Mawarire.

A drought has compounded the hardship, while an acute cash shortage means those lucky enough to get paid are unable to get their hands on any money due to daily withdrawal limits at most banks of as little as $50.

Central bank of plans to circulate local bank notes later this year have caused further anxiety among a population that lost savings and pensions in 2008 when rampant money-printing pushed hyperinflation to more than 500 billion percent.

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