Zimbabwe’s youth has had enough

Article published in OmVärlden
11 October 2016
By Thelma Chikwanha

Zimbabwe. The older generation has let the younger one down. Now young people are protesting in the streets and on social media to express their frustration with Robert Mugabe’s government. Widespread corruption is one of the reasons – it was recently established that diamond revenue worth £1,5 billion has just disappeared.

For the last three months different movements of upset citizens are protesting in Zimbabwe. The protests started after the young pastor Evan Mawarire’s social media post was shared across the country. Using the hashtag #ThisFlag, he encouraged Zimbabweans to hold the government responsible for the collapsed economy.

Many people are saying that the the widespread corruption is one of the main reasons for the financial decline. A number of young leaders are now demanding that the 92-year old president steps down, seeing it as the only solution to the country’s problems. Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu PF, has been in power since the independence in 1980.

The government’s answer to the protests has been to throw young leaders in low standard prisons and put them on trial for law violations, such as violence in a public space. The situation is so tense that new protests happen every day. In the capital city Harare, tear gas, water cannons, and riot police with batons are now a common sight.

Recently, Linda Masarira from Zimbabwe Activists Alliance was released after three months in prison. She was held in isolation in the male section of Chikurubi’s high security prison after having taken part in protests under the hashtag #Shutdownzim2016. She says she will not let herself be scared by the government’s attempts to quiet voices like hers.

-Us young people have joined the fight with strong beliefs, because the country’s problems largely affect us. There are no jobs and we don’t have access to basic social services like health care. That’s why we’re saying that it can’t go on like this. We don’t believe in a successor from Zanu PF. The only way to solve Zimbabwe’s problems is to remove those responsible for 36 years of failures.

According to Zimbabwe’s census bureau, unemployment figures in the formal sector rose from 84 percent in 2011 to 94,5 percent in 2015. This is what is causing the frustration fuelling the protests, particularly amongst the young people who make up 40 percent of the population. Every year, scores of young Zimbabweans finish their university studies without any possibility of finding work afterwards. Patzon Dzamara from Occupy Africa Unity Square says that people are no longer afraid, and that even torture cannot stop the protest movement.

-Zimbabweans are saying that we’ve had enough and the young people are the ones feeling the situation the most. We are educated but there are no jobs. We have to stand up for what we believe in, because nobody is going to fight for us. Even if we haven’t reached the point where Mugabe throws in the towel, the attitude from the authorities who are responsible for maintaining law and order tells us that they are feeling the pressure and that’s a start.

Full article (in Swedish) published in Omvärlden, 11 Oct 2016: https://www.omvarlden.se/Branschnytt/nyheter-2016/zimbabwes-unga-har-fatt-nog/

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