Going forward with #ThisFlag campaign

"People love to say talk is cheap. Growing up in Zimbabwe nothing could have been further than the truth. Among ordinary people, speech was an expensive commodity whose price was often life. The country’s rulers did not just suppress speech and history; they recreated it to serve the present. They knew that, in an oppressive state, change often starts with a complaint."

By Takura Munakandafa

Most Zimbabweans have been asking the question, “What next after #ShutDownZimbabwe2016?” We are all part of this movement and we cannot leave the many unanswered questions of this struggle to its founder alone who has already diced with his life for a better Zimbabwe.

The past few weeks have seen the epic moments of the #ThisFlag campaign that became successful on 06 July 2016, making regional and international headlines resulting in the subsequent arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire a week later after he called for the campaign to continue until the government listens to the cries of Zimbabwean citizens. The amount of public support he received after his marathon trial last week on 14 July 2016 proved that #ThisFlag is here to stay and not just a shadowy social media group as the government has decided to portray it.

The amount of followers has trebled from tens of thousands to over hundreds of thousands in a space of two months since the first #ThisFlag video went viral. The expectations and interest from the public is growing as the movement becomes a reality. Some have even suggested that it must become a political movement. I will explain why in the next paragraphs why the ThisFlag should just remain a Citizens Movement that is likely to be emulated in SADC and other sub-Saharan countries.

#ThisFlag is a Zimbabwean movement by creation and originality. Also read http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/the-story-behind-the-zimbabwean-hash-tag-thisflag-20160518. It is important it remains aligned to that mandate of making any elected government accountable to the vision of the flag. Whenever an idea thrives, you are bound to find opportunists from both the political and economic spectrums who want to benefit directly or indirectly out of it. Some enterprising unemployed Zimbabweans have also genuinely benefited by selling the Zimbabwean flags. This is good as it has created opportunities where the government has failed to do so.

http://www.ilovezimbabwe.org/ is also engaging with the movement in order to setup community centres across the country. This is a welcome initiative that shows the amount of energy in a new generation of Zimbabweans with desire to see their country prospering and building a new Zimbabwe much greater, advanced and innovative than Iron Age Great Dzimbabwe of the 13th century. People will just be giving in their time like what the 100 lawyers from ZHRLA did in defending the constitutional rights for Pastor Evan Mawarire when he was arraigned before the courts on charges that could have amounted to treason for simply asking the government to act on the rot currently eating out into the little left in our motherland.

We have now reached a point where all Zimbabweans must participate in speaking out and contributing directly to the prosperity of the country. At the moment, it is only those who are privileged with access to information like social media and smart phones who are adding their voices. How about our rural people from Gwanda in the South all the way to Chirundu in the North and from Chimanimani in the East all the way to Hwange in the West? They deserve to be heard in a similar way like those privileged to be in towns, cities and the diaspora where internet is easily accessible. How do we get them involved in order to define the future of our beloved country? It is time to setup structures that will enable that vision to prosper.

Finally, looking into the future and beyond the elections in 2018, This Flag Movement must continue to keep an eye on our government regardless of which party wins the elections. It must continue to grow to be a vibrant non-governmental organisation that is supported by Zimbabweans and for Zimbabweans in order to inspire other African countries. Through this unity and momentum that has been displayed by #ThisFlag, it is possible to have accountable governments in Africa before the turn of this century.