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This Flag Campaign an eye opener on the need to fight corruption by all: TIZ

Pastor Evan Mawarire, the brains behind #ThisFlag campaign

This Flag Campaign an eye opener on the need to fight corruption by all: TIZ

BY BYRON MUTINGWENDE

A social media campaign started by Pastor Evan Mawarire to register the frustrations of the citizens of Zimbabwe on leadership failure on the part of the government, particularly on reining-in graft, is a clarion call on the need to end rampant corruption, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has said.

The campaign started small but has gained international popularity and is growing by each day as evidenced by numerous interviews that the clergyman has had in the media, be it on social media platforms and as well as on local and internationally acclaimed radio stations among others.

Mawarire has touched a raw nerve by demanding that the government deliver its promised 2, 2 million jobs that it dangled like a carrot to the electorate ahead of the watershed 2013 elections that they won by a resounding margin ahead of its fiercest opposition led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Just a year after the July 2013 elections, the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT) 2014 Report estimated that of the 5.4-million people considered to be employed, 84% of these were engaged in the small and medium enterprises sector which recorded an estimated annual turnover of $7.4 billion.

The above statistics were precipitated by massive company closures due to subdued capacity utilisation resulting in many people losing their jobs. Independent analysts project that Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate hovers above 90 percent with the majority of citizens earning less than a dollar a day and engaged in the largely unregulated informal sector.

Mawarire’s campaign primarily targets the young people who are an important group in Zimbabwe social, political and economic history to stand up for their rights and demand accountability from the leaders.

According to the 2012 National Census Report, Zimbabwe has a youthful population. 77% out of a total population of 13 061 239 consist of children and youth below 35 years of age. Youths aged 15-34 years number 4 702 046 which constitutes 36% of the national population and those aged between 15-24 years are 20%. The youth aged 15-34 years constitute 56% of the economically active population. Young people are thus an important constituency in the fight against the everyday realities of corruption and unemployment in Zimbabwe.

Statistics show that youths bear the brunt of misplaced priorities and corruption on the part of the government. A baseline study report on Young People and Corruption in Zimbabwe by TIZ upheld the fact that corruption can only be sufficiently tackled in a democratic society that follows principles of good governance that is people centred; accountable to the people and reflects in all its operations and systems the values of engagement, consultation, transparency, integrity and participation in its dispensation.

In his campaign, Mawarire bemoans the increase in the numbers of people facing starvation due to the effects of the El-Nino induced drought. The World Food Programme has said 2, 8 million people face starvation in Zimbabwe. The government has no capacity to feed the hungry amid allegations that ZANU (PF) politicizes its food aid to people in the dire needs of assistance.

Coupled with this, the country is facing a liquidity crunch which has seen meandering queues at the banks as people vainly try to access cash. The pensioners and civil servants are hit the hardest as Treasury has often postponed the pay dates, resulting in people sleeping out in the cold on the pavements.

“The campaign by Mawarire is a sign that it’s no longer just the civil society organizations talking about the need to end corruption but conscious individual citizens as well. As TIZ, we note citizens’ realization that society must be free from all forms of corruption. This is also corroborated by media, the government and Transparency International Zimbabwe reports on the need to end corruption.

“Such initiatives by Mawarire send a direct message to the leadership which should not respond by shouting at the people running the campaign. Government’s rhetoric on fighting corruption must be followed by action which includes effecting the arrests of those implicated in corruption as well as imposing stringent fines and sentences to the culprits. The government should walk the talk by investigating the issues raised by Mawarire instead of persecuting him and others like-minded,” said Mary-Jane Ncube, the Executive Director of Transparency International Zimbabwe.