#ThisFlag : Citizen Participation Key For Transformation

    By Pride Mukono

    A lot of hype has been generated by #Thisflag campaign which was started by one Pastor Evans Mawarire soon after Independence Day (18 April 2016) commemorations.

    In a series of videos uploaded on youtube and shared via social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, whatsapp among others, the Pastor has become an instant hit among the millions of Zimbabweans connected to these sites.

    Even the mainstream media could not miss out the impact generated by the clergyman as ZiFM Stereo’s Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa was quick to invite the hard hitting Pastor to her programme, The Platform.

    In short, the #Thisflag campaign calls on all Zimbabweans to put on the national flag and press their demands of good governance, equal access to economic opportunities, an end to massive corruption and many more on the government of the day.

    With the numbers that the campaign has attracted on social media, traditional ZANU PF propagandists could not afford to be left out. It was, as has become norm Prof. Jonathan Moyo who led the attacking chariots, bashing the campaign as misplaced and instead starting out his own going by #Ourflag.

    In activists circles it has split opinions, many have embraced the Campaign (including this blogger) while others have seriously questioned its ideological grounding and impact in providing transformation to Zimbabwe.

    For this blogger, the real question which has arisen is that of ideological consciousness vs citizen participation.
    Ideological consciousness in this case refers to the theory of change which is used as a tool to mobilize masses for social transformation. In the case of those who belong to the left like myself, this ideology is socialism.

    Citizen participation on the other hand refers to the actions of ordinary citizens in their interactions with the state which are aimed at demanding broad based access to political, economic and social freedoms. It is in simple terms, the exercise of collective power for collective good.

    I will now go on and respectively differ with my colleagues in activists circles and some from the left who a questioning the ideological basis of #Thisflag campaign.

    My point of departure is based on what colleagues opposed to the campaign are putting across, that because there seems to be no ideological orientation which is driving the campaign it is useless to participate in it.

    In rebutting this I will directly quote Karl Marx (the father of socialism) when he argues that “philosophers have interpreted the world the aim, however, is to change it.” I underline the phrase ‘the aim is to change it’, which shows that the real use of ideology as a theoretical framework is to change the world.

    Changing the world will invariably involve action by citizens. In other words in order for ideology to be actualized citizens must engage in struggle (action).

    Frantz Fanon builds on Marx’s arguments when he declares that “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill or betray it.” Once again I will underline the phrase ‘relative obscurity’, its major import is that it is not an easy process to conceptualise the mission (struggle) which must be engaged in in order to transform society.

    It is therefore apparent that #Thisflag campaign is indeed one of the many ‘relatively obscure’ efforts which all seek to ‘discover’ the struggle we must engage in as a generation in order to ‘change the world.’

    In fact Amilcar Cabral is more instructive when he says “ always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.”

    This is exactly what Evans Mawarire is fighting for, this exactly what Tatenda Mombeyarara, Tinashe Chisaira, Jimmy Wilford, Gladys Hlatywayo, Blessing Ivan Vava, Masaraure Obert, Makomborero Haruzivishe, Clever Bere, Takura Z, Zechariah Mushawatu and many other comrades I can never be able to mention all here are fighting for.

    In simple terms we are fighting for the common good.

    Thus the #Thisflag campaign does not have to necessarily have a direct ideological inclination at this moment but it suffices that it is speaking to what we have all been fighting for ‘to live better and in peace.’

    In any case it is the responsibility of the vanguard comrades on the left to ground the strategies of the #Thisflag campaign on a clear ideological framing and this can only be achieved when we participate in it.

    We must participate to articulate the vision of a better world, participate to agitate for access to quality health, participate to fight privatisation, participate to expose the neo-liberal slant of the government.

    Participate indeed to be with the masses so that we can, as Canaan Banana says in The Gospel According to the Ghetto, ‘liberate the consciousness of the masses.’ This is our duty as the more refined activists in this struggle to share the ideology we consider to be able to transform our nation with the broad masses. And #Thisflag campaign is providing a platform to do this.

    Indeed for citizens it is a civic duty to participate in advancing society for better. In this respect by #Thisflag campaign what citizens are now doing is to give new symbolism to the national flag which hitherto was interpreted as a symbol of dominance by the political elite.

    Indeed by donning the national flag, itself a product of Zimbabwe’s historic struggles, citizens are beginning to question the legitimacy of those in power.

    They are asking the serious questions of who gets what, when and how? They are interrogating the sanity and sincerity of the political establishment. I can find no other worthwhile struggle and it falls perfectly into the ideological framing I stand for.

    In the final analysis it is apparent that citizen participation though not grounded on any immediate ideology is a critical component of social transformation.

    Indeed by participating, citizens have an opportunity to come face to face with the system and thus learn from it. Che Guevara would then conclude and remark that “ we learnt and gained experience in the course of the struggle, we became revolutionaries in the course of the revolution.”

    This I hope will make my more skeptical friends be more enthusiastic to participate.

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