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Of stayaways and demos via #tag movements

01 Sep 2016 at 10:24hrs | Views
The stay away called for 31st of August 2016 by the now famous Hash tag aligned movements took off to a slow start so far in Bulawayo. A quick survey of Bulawayo's eGodini terminus or City Hall showed that the called shutdown had failed. The security officers, in uniform and plain clothes, were dutifully placed at all strategic positions on the lookout for any trouble. Not to be outdone, BUYA had also called for a demonstration the same day as the stayaway. The demonstration was certified a flop as no one pitched up on time for the friendly match to kick off. Those who did pitch up avoided appearing on the venue via many disguises. They avoided the City Hall car park the same way we avoid looking at our own poo before we flush! Maybe they feared the police? Well, like in all gatherings, its an obvious fact that the police would definitely invite themselves! These ZRP spectators can be hooligans at times and end up invading the pitch, depending on the tempo of the games. That hooliganism behaviour by the fans must never be allowed to deter Highlanders from dating Dynamos!

It's a good thing that Hash Tag motivated organisations are springing up everywhere like boils on Job in the bible and calling for stay-aways or demonstrations, it a pity when the organisers effortlessly fail to even pitch up at the suggested meeting point for the demonstration. When police hear of an impending civil unrest, they use all state resources to prepare for a counter friendly match in athletics and Gladiator Marshal Arts, just like all hooligans do! When the friendly match fails to kick off, it results in wasted energy, time and state resources. Police cars need fuelling, chemical water and teargas needs purchasing. Its bad practice to negotiate a deal in bad faith and waste state resources which could have been donated to orphanages or given to the pensioners or the less privileged.

Anyway on a rather serious note: Why are these hash tag inspired movements failing to successfully carry out the publicised stayaways and demos, you may be wondering.

The Hash Tag inspired stay-aways lack proper ground coordination. Opportunists are also taking this opportunity to make their names known out there by calling for demos on the day of the stayaway. This is just like trying to commit suicide by holding your breathe. It can't!

Demonstrations and stay-aways are two mutually exclusive events. Police get a rest as well on a stay away because no one must be seen in town. Police also need to benefit from a people driven holiday! Don't deny them that rest. It is a different cattle of fish in a demonstration because the police have to be on the alert for any trouble makers. You confuse even the government when you call for these two events on same day! Remember a confused government cannot govern properly, no wonder why we have so much chaotic governance in Zimbabwe!

Stayaway means people take a sabbatical leave and give themselves a holiday by staying at home! If anyone then calls for a demonstration in town on the same day as stayaway, then they are countering the stay away as it may mean that people need to be transported to town, shops need to open for people to buy food to eat, journalists need to be at work taking pictures, airtime vendors need to be selling you airtime so that you buy your data bundles. Remember during a stay away, police, vendors and even journalists are supposed to be at home. In reality no one will be there to get your story during a stayaway. A demonstration on the other hand is effective when its business as usual, unlike in a case of stayaway. A demonstration done on an empty yawning street ceases to have any effect at all. You demonstrate so that some one sees your efforts and responds.

Organisational composition can also be a serious factor between survival and death! Hash tag movement is made up of mostly clicktivist kind of new crop of political activists. A clicktivist is a hyper-cyber active individual who aggressively push for civil rights, political or personal agendas behind the big thick veil of cyber wall. Usually these people use pseudo names to lock themselves away from any real world connections. The clicktivism board room is mostly twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp. Clicktivists have daily meetings, interviews and good debates with good strategies, but their plans are in a virtual world and there is little or no application of the ideas in real world.

Though these clicktivists rarely meet physically, one other attribute is that they have a very good network for blaming anyone else but themselves for the failure of their virtual world ideas. Recent blame game has been seen in #ThisFlag movement where the leader flew out of the country at the slightest chance he got. Since it's a cyber world, the idea is he can still lead clicktivism where ever he is. Old school being old schol, some of the #thisflag clicktivists feel let down by him. They labelled him a coward, though he is still a click away! That's the mother of all dilemmas. But who am I to judge them? It's the cyber world remember!

Absence of physical meetings, lack of coordination and easiness with which one becomes a clicktivist guru creates a lot of fly by night fake characters who jump into the social boardrooms fray out of boredom. Recent example is Smoke-That-Thunders character who threatened to unleash civil unrest in the country, but like the original icon of clicktivist Baba Jukwa, this character just cyber-thundered and was smoked out by gigabytes of Internet Ocean. And so far the relentless coordinated efforts to locate this character and consult them on their initial mandate have not been fruitful! Most of the Zimbabwean clicktivist are either unemployed young people or diasporians. So the question is who must stayaway during the called stayaway?

The lack of employment means these clicktivist would not even have enough transport money to come to a demonstration or bail money in case they are arrested unless they dig a little dipper into their parents' savings, and that on its own is a mountain to climb. They survive and maintain their presence in this clicktivist cyber world through Hotspoting from their parents mobile data connections! Tough times for sure. I believe it's a mockery and not fair to call for an unemployed person, to stay way because the individual is actually already on a perpetual stayaway! So whether these unemployed clicktivists stayaway or not, whether they are in town or not it has no much effect on wheels of industry. The few employed clicktivist are actually under-employed and know that they are not indispensable at work! Any slight sign of trouble, they are given marching orders. The people who suffer are the families where the clicktivists would be bread winners. The uncoordinated approach of the hash tag movement means there is no database or contingency plan to help those affected by Hash Tag movement e.g. imprisonment, victimisation or even being fired. Clicktivists individuals suffer alone and rot in the poverty as they become forgotten even by their other clicktivist Cdes! None of the clicktivist would bother asking themselves where you have disappeared to as the hash tag movement is an each man for himself and internet for us all kinder setup.

The diasporians factor coming in through the dollar power, superiority complex, and powerful internet connectivity has been handy in fuelling the clicktivism specifically the Hash Tag movement. The diaspora population is mostly responsible for the production and dissemination of, most the time, threatening messages which under normal circumstances they wouldn't publicly say in Zimbabwe. Its folly for us to expect a diasporians to stayaway while in South Africa or UK. The question is: How do the diasporians stayaway? God knows. The struggle can be supported in different ways remember.

Still aligned to the diaspora group is the War Veterans group. War Vets are those that went to the diaspora but found themselves back in Zimbabwe by hook or crook. This group has a nostalgic syndrome for the stint they had abroad to an extent that they still use UK, SA or Botswana numbers 6 months after being resident in Zimbabwe. War Vets are characteristically in the do-nothing-but-always-complain crew. To them nothing is perfect in Zimbabwe, every bit of their conversation is a comparison of Pretoria to Bulawayo or London to Harare. To them no-one has any reasoning capacity better them. To them a good idea is good as long as long as they are the originators. War Vets lead this Hash Tag movement with passion because they have first-hand experience of Government failure economically but have the advantage of pretending to be in diaspora, they hide behind their foreign numbers. They never come out of the cyber world and never identify themselves in public. The way they act is similar to case of your wife seeing you in a compromising position in town, she then calls your cell to ask where you are and you lie! Baam! You may not see her, but she is right behind you, breathing same air as you.

We cannot deny the fact that some of these Hash tag movements are inspired by the abject poverty emanating from total breakdown of our Zimbabwean economy. It is an engraved belief that if one starts a movement and it gets famous, they can then approach "sponsors" whose role would be going as far as pumping money into the movement coffers ONLY. The problem starts when this "sponsor" asks for balanced audited books on how their finances were used. That usually signals the fall out between the sponsor and the beneficiary organisation. Never the less, the begging bowl is then taken elsewhere, and the cycle starts again. Most often than not, some of these sponsors get carried away and starts asking for evidence of physical activities on the ground! That again leads to a total divorce between the sponsor and these organisations.

The numerous hash tags movements are such that at the end of the day one doesn't know who or what to follow. Anyone who has a simple smart phone with WhatsApp, twitter or Facebook can become the king of the internet jungle in one night. In Zimbabwe there are effectively 3 teacher organisations, one nurse's organisation and one medical doctor's organisation, and there is also one organisation which stands for bank workers. It would be a waste of time trying to quantify number of hash tag movements as their number increases exponentially every time a new person learns how to use internet! #thisflag, #thishand, #tajamuka, #sesidiniwe, #youthpower, #TheSunIsHot, #MyBondCoin….list goes on.

Over the years, teacher organisations led strikes have been unsuccessful because the 3 teacher organisation have not been coordinating their activities as one team. They have been acting as individual entities with nothing in common except to siphon cash from teachers through subscriptions every month. But come 15th of July 2016, we witnessed a total selfless coordination by these three teacher movements. The result was a successful execution of the best stayaway to be witnessed since the MDC hey days in the early 2000s. Even the commuter omnibus organisations, vendor organisations, hash-tag movements, thigh vendor organisations joined in making it a real success. Ladies and gentlemen, there is power in numbers!

The hash tag movements on the other hand are doing exact opposite of what transpired on 15th of July 2016. These Hash Tag inspired movements fail to see the bigger picture. Some Hash Tag leaders had never even been selected to be class monitors at primary schools. They get so awed and overwhelmed by attention from their followers such that they end up getting short circuited intellectually. Some of the clicktivist are good leaders and know how to lead masses. This mixed bag of "leaders" causes so much friction such that the clicktivist fail to even THINK of: Having a proper leadership structure; Consolidating their objectives and grievances; and calling for a well thought out plan of action as one team. Instead of forming one united bunch, Hash Tags come in many different disorganised splints trying to outdo each other on egocentrism to claim the much sought after ultimate Hash Tag prize and publicity limelight.

Hope one day these Hash Tag movements will come together and build a powerful pressure group. A pressure group not based on selfish ideas but on BUILD-ing Zimbabwe.


Source - Mangosuthu Mbele
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