From tweets to streets, Zimbabwe social media anger erupts into anti-Mugabe protests

Thu Jul 7, 2016 2:12pm GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Organisers of a general strike against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe pledged on Thursday to continue action until he falls, as a spontaneous social media movement has coalesced into the biggest uprising against his rule in nearly a decade.

Zimbabweans have been using the Internet in recent weeks to mobilise for street protests against Mugabe's government, bypassing traditional opposition parties as anger grows over his administration's handling of a failing economy.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader at 92, has led the former British colony since independence in 1980.

His critics say he has presided over the destruction of a once-promising country with policies such as the seizures of white-owned farms; his government blames foreign powers for sabotaging the economy and stirring unrest.

On Wednesday, much of the country was shut down by a "stay away" general strike, organised by a social media movement that complains of poor public services, 85 percent unemployment, widespread corruption and delays in getting state salaries.

The unlikely protest leader is a pastor, Evan Mawarire, who launched the movement - #ThisFlag - to get Zimbabweans to rally round the national flag and speak out against Mugabe policies.

He told Reuters the movement had found its voice and was planning more action in the wake of the success of Wednesday's strike, which shut down much of the capital Harare.

"We are getting to a place where we are now expressing that we have had enough. What we are doing is about one action, one voice concerning our frustration. Enough is enough," he said.   Continued...

A boy walks past a burning tyre in Mufakose in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
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