What you need to know:
- There are now a plethora of movements that includes Tajamuka (We have rebelled), that lead daring protests against President Mugabe’s rule.
- Unemployed graduates, rural teachers, vendors and opposition political parties are some of the groups that have taken to the streets demanding change in the last two months.
Six months ago, a Zimbabwean pastor frustrated by the failure to raise school fees for his children due to a collapsing economy, draped himself with the country’s flag and recorded his frustrations on a video.
Pastor Evan Mawarire posted the video on Twitter and Facebook on the eve of Zimbabwe’s 36th independence anniversary, on April 18.
Before he knew it, he was the face of a social movement that has kept President Robert Mugabe’s government on its toes amid signs the strongman’s octopus like grip on power is loosening.
On July 6, the Baptist pastor was on the forefront of a one day strike or stay away as it is known locally, that ‘shutdown’ Zimbabwe and courted the 92 year-old ruler’s ire.
Pastor Mawarire has since been granted asylum in the United States after police tried to charge him with treason.
He was also threatened by President Mugabe who described him as an agent of Western countries that want to topple him from power. However, the pastor’s #ThisFlag movement had already lit an unstoppable fire.
There are now a plethora of movements that includes Tajamuka (We have rebelled), that lead daring protests against President Mugabe’s rule.
Protests have become the order of the day in Zimbabwe’s major cities as calls grow louder for one of the world’s oldest leaders to step down.
Unemployed graduates, rural teachers, vendors and opposition political parties led by one of the veteran ruler’s former deputies Joice Mujuru and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are some of the groups that have taken to the streets demanding change in the last two months.
“We have common issues about bond notes (a new local currency), water (cuts), shortages of food, job losses closure of hospitals and unemployed graduates,” Mrs Mujuru said on August 13 as she joined Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in yet another street protest in the city of Gweru.
The MDC, the largest opposition party in the country has held large protests in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and Gweru since April 14, a few days before Pastor Mawarire’s first video went viral.
Mr Tsvangirai, who announced in June that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the colon and is receiving treatment in South Africa, led from the front as he has done during protests in Masvingo and Gweru this month.
The Harare demonstrations were described as the biggest in the last decade and seemed to give the opposition fresh impetus in a country where police routinely use force to break up protests.
Analysts say the opposition and civic groups feel that President Mugabe is at his weakest because of the Zanu PF leader’s advanced age and factionalism in the ruling party.
Former liberation war fighters who were key in the president’s controversial re-election in 2002, 2008 and 2013, in July said they were withdrawing their support because of his alleged dictatorial tendencies and refusal to step down.