#thisflag- Mawarire addresses UCT students
On the evening of Tuesday 2 August 2016 I had the privilege of attending a live presentation by the #thisflag movement leader Pastor Evan Mawarire. The #thisflag movement represents Zimbabwean nationals’ grievances towards their government’s mismanagement of state funds and resources as well as the government’s failure to deliver on the post-independence economic promises it made to citizens. Speaking at an event which was co-organized by the University of Cape Town’s Zimbabwean Students society (UCT-ZIMSOC) and the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Student Representative Council (UCT-SRC) Mawarire urged Zimbabwean youths to spearhead their own country’s political change and economic transformation.
Many questions were raised with regards to how the movement will continue to gain momentum and whether Pastor Evan is willing to lead an opposition political party which will contest in the 2018 presidential elections. According to Mawarire he believes that political transformation in Zimbabwe can and will be achieved via the ballot box but he will not be running for presidency. He urged fellow Zimbabwean citizens to choose wisely and make sure that they vote in the 2018 elections. He said that the sustainability and success of the #thisflag movement rests in the ability of Zimbabweans all over the world to create strong think tank groups and movements which stand firmly against the current government which is responsible for the deterioration of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Mawarire further emphasized that Zimbabweans need to desist from the culture of waiting for someone else to be their savior while they themselves can become active in their own liberation from structural violence. At the end of the session many people left the venue inspired to contribute towards a new Zimbabwe but desperation, fear and doubt still cloud the minds of many who are hungry for quick solutions and a brisk return to economic prosperity but have no set strategy to push the government to act in the people’s interest.
The movement which Pastor Evan Mawarire inspired has spread from social media to the streets and from the streets to lecture theatres and think tank groups. However #thisflag debates seem to be more popular among Zimbabwe’s urban population and Zimbabweans living in the diaspora. The rural population is yet to be fully engaged and mobilized. It is the hope of many Zimbabweans to have a more accountable and responsive government.