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The rise of youth activism and nonviolent action in addressing Zimbabwe’s crisis

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The rise of youth activism and nonviolent action in addressing Zimbabwe’s crisis
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  #Citizens: The Rr ise of  Yyouth Aactivism and Nnonviolent Aaction in Aaddressing Zimbabwes Ccrisis Introduction Understanding Zimbabwe’s Cconflict  Zimbabwe has experienced different forms of conflicts since independence in 1980. It is appropriate to apply a systems approach in order for us to unpack Zimbabwe’s conflict to date. The ausal !oop "ia#ramme $!"% in &i#ure 1 summarises below summarises this the conflict (Figure 1) .. &i#ure 1' ausal !oop "ia#ramme of Zimbabwe(s onflict $source' the authors)illary *ephat +usarurwa% Figure 1 Causal Loop Diagram of Zimbabwe's conflict (source: the authors) The !" clearly indicates that Zimbabwe’s conflict is a complex web of socio,political and economic challen#es. These include issues such as poor ser-ice deli-ery corruption po-erty unemployment poor economic performance policy inconsistency lack of independence of the /udiciary lack of rule of law 1  human ri#hts abuse dictatorship lack of ci-ic education reduced -oter confidence and issues with the credibility of elections. Zimbabweans ha-e experienced been exposed to structural and cultural -iolence. tructural -iolence euates to social ineuality and leads to impaired human #rowth and de-elopment 1 . 2hilst cultural -iolence is the rhetorical excuses that usually follow #o-ernment’s failure to act or deli-er on ensurin# that its citi3ens li-e  better#ood li-es in all spheres. tructural -iolence delays self,actualisation and in most cases people always fall short and fail to reach optimum potential realisation. &or the purposes of this article paper structural -iolence and cultural -iolence will be taken to imply the policies and statutes that are put in place in a country whose intentions were to do ,#ood but instead turn they brin# harm to the citi3ens. 4  It will also refer to the actions related to the enforcement of such policies to the extent of infrin#in# on the human ri#hts of citi3ens. tructural -iolence usually occurs in public institutions like the le#al system education health ser-ices and other public empowerment initiati-es undertaken by the #o-ernment. There is also a perpetuation of an entitlement mentality amon#st different #roups within thrthe rulin#  party party Zimbabwe 5frican 6ational 7nion atriotic &ront $Z567, $&%%  . members seemin#ly ha-in# the ri#ht to a final say in e-erythin#. They can freely express their -iews in public attack opposition members directly : -erbally and physically report and disrupt processes and acti-ities done outside of their structures. They +embers seem to ha-e ha-e a ri#ht to access a number of resources such as land loans farmin# euipment or food hand,outs since they are distributed by the rulin# party and members only benefit.  hence members only should benefit. This promotes a retributi-e stance by those who ha-e been alienated and -ictimised. They -ictims harbour a resentment an#er and -en#eance. attitude patiently awaitin# their day to re-en#e. &ailure to address the underlyin# causes of the existin# challen#es that many Zimbabwean citi3ens face can easily lead to a mobocracy. The people of Zimbabwe ha-e internalised these forms of -iolence acceptin# them to be a normal way of life. )owe-er this state of ne#ati-e peace is punctuated by hushed and unexpressed an#er. The citi3ens’ discontent with any situation public or pri-ate is heard throu#h murmurin#s behind closed doors and in corridors but ne-er publicly. This leads them to them acceptin# the continued /ustifications made#i-en by  policy, makers and politicians for the #o-ernment’s lack of action; a form of cultural -iolence in its own ri#ht. In turn this leads to resi#nation by citi3ens and accept their fate thus creatin# ne#ati-e peace.4   Non-violent  Sstrategies as the Oo ption for  Dd ealing with Zimbabwe’s Cconflict  2hilst #ra-itatin# to -iolence mi#ht come naturally for the people of Zimbabwe there is a realistic alternati-e non-iolent option to deal with conflict or e-en stron# repression. <  It therefore becomes 6on,-iolence is the appropriate option in Zimbabwe since the &f reedom of e=xpression throu#h public e-ents such as demonstrations marches or e-en community discussions is hampered by draconian laws such as The ublic >rder and ecurity 5ct $>5%. 5ny authorised public meetin#s are monitored and ha-e resulted in a number of arrests should the discussions or e-ents skirt on matters deemed to be political. i-ic acti-ities are carried out in an atmosphere of intimidation and fear. The &f ailure of acti-ists to apply non,-iolent strate#ies result in them fallin# into actions will see them fall into the #o-ernment’s trap of  breakin# laws and such . uch actions will therefore likely be met with hard handedness throu#h police  brutality arbitrary arrests abductions and at times disappearances of acti-ists. !periences of "#outh in Zimbabwe 5dult idealism sees the youth as lackin# knowled#e and experience and they are thus leadin# adults to  become unwillin# to #i-e youth muchany  political space ? . ometimes -iolence is employed to thwart youth participation. )owe-er +c=-oy,!e-y $4014%$4014% #oes states that the on to stress that youth are inno-ati-e possessin# and utilis3in# different forms of power and expressin# themsel-es throu#h differentarmed means of  peacebuildin# acti-ities. There are #rowin# calls to support the efforts of inno-ati-e youn# acti-ists and peacebuilders in addressin# the challen#es that youth face up with daily. )owe-er doin# so is often dismissed as political mischief and a push for re#ime chan#e in a country like Zimbabwe.adly most if not all political parties in Zimbabwe are #uilty of closin# out the  political space for youth. oliticians in Zimbabwe prefer to pro-ide limited political space to youth and restrict them to their youth lea#ue formations. The modus operandi  bein# to is to socio,economically depri-e the youth and render them susceptible to exploitation and control by the @empowered’ few in the political hierarchy who ha-e the political and financial muscle to purchase the ener#y of the youth. It therefore follows that bein# able to address the social ineuality challen#es of faced by youth discounts this and closes out the market place for sponsorin# youth to be political cannon fodder  or runners carryin# out -iolent errands for politicians. $he "outh are fFinding their %&oice and speaing out The year 401A has seen unprecedented historic e-ents unfold in Zimbabwe as youn# people be#in to find their -oices and speak out a#ainst in/ustices in the country. iti3ens ha-e started to speak out a#ainst their #o-ernment amid risin# calls for socio,economic and political transformation. It is important to state some of the e-ents that ha-e tri##ered this backlash from youn# Zimbabwean citi3ens across the #lobe   are listed below. . 2hilst there ha-e been many issues that brou#ht about reactions from citi3ens I will list /ust a few in chronolo#ical order. eriod>ccurrenceBTri##er e-entes*anuary 401Atatutory Instrument 1<8 of 401?. C5. 4'04.D ustoms and =xcise $Eeneral 5mendment% Fe#ulations 401?. $6o. 80%tatutory Instrument 1<8 of 401? $ustoms and =xcise $Eeneral% $5mendment% Fe#ulations 401? $6o 80% which reduces the duty rebate for tra-ellers to 7G400 from 7G00 whilst at the same time completely scrappin# it for tra-ellers usin# small cross border transport buses or trucks is operationalised.+arch 401AIt was reported that resident Fobert +u#abe re-ealed durin# his 91 st  birthday inter-iew that Zimbabwe was robbed of more than 7G1? billion in re-enue from diamond minin# in hiyad3wa by the companies that were runnin# minin# business in the area.5pril 401AThe +inistry of rimary and econdary =ducation introduced the chools 6ational led#e.+ay 401AThe Feser-e Hank of Zimbabwe’s Eo-ernor announcesd the plan tointroduce bond notes as a measure to address the cash crisis facin# the country.*une 401Atatutory Instrument A< of 401A which bans the import of #oods without a license ias introduced.The #eneral trend in passin# some of these laws mentioned abo-e was the lack of transparency and consultation by the #o-ernment. The subseuent imposition of these measures an#ered citi3ens many who-iewed them as further spirallin# the poor into po-erty. It was iIn reaction to these measures the lack of transparency and accountability with re#ards to the missin# 7G1? billion as well as the failure to deal with increasin# le-els of corruption that #ot the better of  youn# Zimbabweans were an#ered. In reaction to these e-ents youth acti-ists increased their mobilisation acti-ities and started to use social media  platforms to -oice out their displeasure with on their  #o-ernment. *o&ements Cchampioning the Ccause of Zimbabwean Cciti+ens There are a number of mo-ements that ha-e sprun# up in Zimbabwe that isare increasin#ly reco#nised standin# up to be counted in the as youth acti-ism wa-e that is sweepin# across the country. I will #i-e a  brief back#round on /ust tThree of these mo-ements include namely >ccupy 5frica 7nity uare This  &la# +o-ement and the Ta/amukaBes/ikile ampai#n. . <  Occupy frica Unity S!uare >ccupy 5frica 7nity uare $>57% is a mo-ement that identifies itself as Ja #roup of citi3en acti-ists founded by Itai "3amara in 401<.K A  The mo-ement is dri-en by non,-iolence and  a principled and constitutional fi#ht to liberate the country from corruption and mismana#ement. Its members belie-e they ha-e a duty to carry on the stru##le started by Zimbabwe’s liberators as they Jaccomplish and protectZimbabwean freedom albeit by different means.K The founder of the mo-ement Itai "3amara has been missin# since 9 +arch 401? when he was abducted by unidentified men outside a barber shop in his nei#hbourhood L . )is brother atson "3amara has become the face of >57 and to#ether with other members continue to use the 5frica 7nity uare in )arare as their main stay protest -enue. In *une 401A 1? acti-ists were arrested as  part of a clampdown on their 1A,day >ccupy 5frica 7nity uare  protest which they had started on 1 *une 401A 8 . "his #lag $ovement  This &la# m+o-ement started throu#h a monolo#ue -ideo recordin# shared by astor =-an +awarire on 40 5pril 401A -ia social media platforms such as &acebook 2hatsapp2hats5pp and Twitter  9 . In his recordin# the astor+awarire expressed his disappointment at the Zimbabwean #o-ernment’s failure to create an en-ironment where he could pro-ide for his children’s education and upkeep. )e went on to call on Zimbabwean citi3ens across the world to share  photo#raphs selfies -ia JselfiesK showin# themsel-es holdin# a Zimbabwean fla# in protest toof  the corruption and social in/ustice pre-ailin# in the country. The -ideo went -iral on social media and the response to his call for action was astoundin# 10 . Zimbabweanciti3ens from all o-er the world shared their selfies in protest. In *une 401A he took the protests further byin-itin# citi3ens to a meetin# with the Feser-e Hank of Zimbabwe Eo-ernor where they expressed their disappro-al to the introduction of bond notes. In the same month the This &la# +o-ement also started a  petition to ha-e the +inister of =ner#y and ower "e-elopment in Zimbabwe remo-ed from office for corruption. The mo-ement #al-anises citi3ens in Zimbabwe and abroad to demand non,-iolently that the Zimbabwean #o-ernment acts to curtail the country’s socio,economic challen#es. The mo-ement’s main demands are an end to corruption increased #o-ernment transparency and accountability as well as the creation of platforms for en#a#ements between #o-ernment and citi3ens. >ne of the ma/or achie-ements of the mo-ement so far was the callin# for a successful stay away dubbed Mhut"ownZimbabwe401A on A *uly 401A. The call to stay away coincided with strikes by teachers and commuter omnibus operators which helped to make it a  bi# success. "a%amu&a'Ses%i&ile Campaign ?
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