Tuesday, 26 July 2016

#ThisFlag's appeal was its easy to digest messages - sadly, with little nurishment. By Wilbert Mukori

Many people have asked Pastor Evan Mawarire why his #ThisFlag videos have been so popular. Many people have asked members of the public what was it they found so appealing about #ThisFlag? In both the Pastor and the public’s varied answers four things have come out:


  1. The Pastor talked about bread and butter issues they could relate to in their own lives; his failure to pay his children’s school fees, for example.


  1. He talked about economic hardships at the time when the economic hardships are an ever present reality for millions of people given the country’s soaring unemployment rate of 90% plus, the fact that 76% of the people cannot afford even one decent meal a day, etc.


  1. He offer simple solutions with a chance of a quick return; “Fire corrupt ministers!” “We want our $15 billion back!” and “Want the 2.2 million jobs!” read some of the twitters doing the rounds.


  1. The campaign was conducted within the confines of the 140 maximum twitter character limit making the whole debate exceptionally easy and mind numbingly simple!


Indeed the key to the success of the whole campaign is EASY whether it effective or had any hope of changing anything was never even considered. Zimbabweans have known that corruption was one of the country’s biggest problems for donkey years, for example. They have asked Mugabe to do something about it for all these years but only to see the problem get worse and worse.


In March Mugabe admitted that $15 billion worth of Marange diamond revenue was looted. The country’s GDP is $14 billion. It turns out that the $15 billion the people have been demanding must be paid back, “a big chunk” of it was looted by former VP Mujuru alone according to Minister Kasukuwere which meanings the looting is a lot worse since she is certainly not the only one who has been looting! Looting is a very serious problem indeed.


Neither Pastor Mawarire nor any of his followers expected Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers and thus end the corruption. Even when he has fired the odd corrupt minister, the corruption has surfaced somewhere else; it has been like squeezing a balloon.


After 36 years of this corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship there can be no doubt Pastor Mawarire and even the slow witted ones amongst his followers would have figured out by now that the only way the country would ever get any meaningful economic recovery is by removing Zanu PF from office through free, fair and credible elections. It must be blatantly obvious that the country is stuck with this corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical Mugabe regime.


In other words the Pastor and his followers are calling for Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers because that is easy to do although they know it will yield nothing in terms of economic recovery and alleviating their economic suffering. If they were serious about wanting to end their economic suffering then they would be calling for the implementation of the democratic reforms necessary for free, fair and credible elections, that is more difficult and will take a lot more than the 140 characters to explain.


Throughout the GNU most Zimbabweans heard a lot of talk about the need for MDC to implement the democratic reforms out never bothered to find out what the reforms were and that they were necessary for free, fair and credible elections. Even with the benefit of hindsight of the rigged 2013 elections most people still do not understand that it was MDC’s failure to get even one democratic reform implemented that allowed Mugabe to blatantly rig the 2013 elections.


The reason why Zimbabwe is in this political paralysis and economic mess can be traced to the political and economic choices we have made along the way; we have chosen the easy route time and time again even when it was self-evident there was little or nothing to be gained compared to the more difficult but high yield alternative.


“Zvinokupiyi  kuzudza muti mutete asina chirimo!” goes the Shona adage. (What is the point of shaking thin tree if it has no fruit yield!)


Unless the hundreds of thousands of #This Flag activists can upgrade their political consciousness to campaigning for free, fair and credible elections and thus stop Zanu PF rigging the next elections then their activism will be judged as just another easy option flush in the pan with very little change to show for it!


  1. Twitter, WhatsApp and all the similar instant messaging sites were meant for nothing more that letting others know where you are and where they are in much the same way a family of meerkats going through a patch of tall grass or a troop of monkeys in thick would chatter. One does not need more than 140 characters to say I am here!

    I agree we are in trouble as a nation because our people have not taken their duty as citizens to electing competent leaders with the seriousness it demands because they have not taken the trouble to understand the important issues affecting the nation. It has been hard to engage most Zimbabweans in an intelligent discourse on politics or anything substantive. Talk about football with men or fashion or gossip with the ladies and you can talk all day and all night. Talk about why the country is going to the dogs and they immediately switch off!

    It is the worsening economic situation that has forced many Zimbabweans to show any interest in what is going on in the country. Let us face it, Morgan Tsvangirai has never promised the people anything beyond the usual simplistic promise of making all their lives better, he has never given any detail how because he has no clue himself and, thankfully for him, the electorate have never asked. When the extend of your understanding of any subject matter is very superficial at best you do not ask any question. If you do you will be bamboozled with bull and be no wiser!

    When the extend of your understanding of a subject is superficial then you contribution in the discussion is limited to a few characters and hence the reason why instant messaging forums like twitter and whatsapp where the tool of choice for an electorate that had little to say beyond that they are angry!

    Of course none of the solutions advanced in #ThisFlag were meant to address the country’s political and economic problems in any meaningful way because one needed a proper dialogue to come up with such solutions. This was meant to send the simple message “I am angry!”

    Of course it is disheartening that the country is in serious trouble and all we are capable of is “I am an-gry!” After 36 years of independence and things going from bad to worse and now they have gone horribly, horribly wrong and all we can do is chatter about it like monkeys!

    Even if the Zanu PF dictatorship was to fall today as long as the caliber of our electorate remains anchored in the chattering class who cannot understand anything more than 140 characters then this nation is not out of the woods yet. We are almost certain to elect another regime of corrupt and incompetent individuals. Indeed the nation will not heed to any warnings and will even elect those with a well-documented record of been incompetent, corrupt and sell-outs; cutting off their own noses to spite their faces!

  2. Yes sex is a pleasure most humans enjoy greatly but let me tell you something for nothing - having sex on an empty stomach takes the edge, neither of you has the energy. Even if being poor, unemployed, sick and all the other economic and social ills commonly associated with poverty have no effect on you sex drive; surely you must have a few hours in between to have noticed the growing poverty in the country.

    Yes the number of people expressing their dissatisfaction with Zanu PF in #ThisFlag campaign did take President Mugabe by surprise, it was an annoyance but not a "hard punch on the dictator's nose!" The campaign in itself was too simplistic to be considered a serious threat to the Zanu PF dictatorship. The activists called for the dictator to fire his corrupt ministers but not for the dictator himself to go or did the Pastor offer anything to stop the dictator rigging elections in future.

    The point Wilbert is making here is that after 36 years of this corrupt and tyrannical dictatorship surely we should be aiming at removing him from office and not be contend with annoying him or punching him in the nose! We desperately need regime change and we are not going to get it without upgrading our understanding of politics above the 140 character limit.

    We need to have a serious dialogue on how to rescue the country from this mess and we will never have it on twitter and WhatsApp; that is the point!