By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
#ZimbabweanLivesMatter has been trending forcing advocacy networks, celebrities and politicians in Zimbabwe, South Africa and across the world to take information on rights abuses in Zimbabwe and mount pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to act.
The #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, a campaign that originated in South Africa last week is an offspring of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign to fight mainly police brutality in the United States.
The campaign is currently No 1 on the list of trending topics on Twitter and prominent on other social media platforms with celebrities like musician Ice Cube, Lecrae and Tinashe joining the campaign against human rights abuse by the Zanu PF regime.
South African hip-hop star AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, pioneered the social media campaign after he tweeted a picture of himself draped in the Zimbabwean flag.
Zakes Bantwini, Dr Tumi, Boity Tulo, actor Pearl Thusi, politicians Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema pushed the hashtag while the Jamaican band Morgan Heritage denounced human rights violations in the country.
Nehanda Radio had an exclusive interview with political commentator, Pedzisai Ruhanya who argued that the significance of the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter was its ability to unite the world in the condemnation of human rights abuses by Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration.
“#ZimbabweanLivesMatter has been trending and has forced Advocacy networks in South Africa, advocacy networks across the world to take the information on rights abuses in Zimbabwe as seen by horrific pictures of torture, abuse such as that of Tawanda Muchehiwa that has gone viral and other people that have been tortured since March.
“They take this information and pressure their governments on the basis that their governments have diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe and ask the Zimbabwean government why it is abusing human rights, why it is not respecting international norms governing the conduct of democratic states.
“This the reason why Malema has been speaking, Mmusi Maimane has been speaking, Mtwawarira has been speaking.
“That information bounces back to the government of Zimbabwe in what is known in the human rights discourse as the boomerang effect and because of that boomerang effect as a result of this hashtag you saw the president responding today with a vacuous and empty statement where he further threatened citizens with flashing them out calling legitimate opposition terrorists.
“Yet we do not have examples of terrorist activities by the people that the president labels.
“In fact terrorist activities are actually the ones committed by this ZANU PF government through torture, abductions and forced disappearances of citizens.
“So what is happening is internationalising the Zimbabwe case by this hashtag, making the world know that there is an impending colossal human rights violation in Zimbabwe that needs to be halted,” Ruhanya said.
Former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf endorsed the campaign.
“Fadzayi, Tsitsi, Julie, Terrence, Loveridge, and all the others in Zimbabwe’s protest may God give you strength and courage in your pursuit of freedom. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter,” Sirleaf wrote on his official Twitter handle.
Outspoken South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Malema recently called for the “removal of the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa” until President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has restored basic human rights in the country.
He took to twitter on Monday and first promoting the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag tweeting “We stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter”
“We call for the removal of the Zimbabwean Embassy in SA until they restore the human rights in that country. Failure to do so, we will prevent any official from the Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in SA until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans,” Malema tweeted.
Two weeks ago, political investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, the one who exposed Zanu PF officials in massive corruption, the latest being the Drax Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume.
They were arrested ahead of the 31st July protests against corruption and charged for allegedly “inciting violence”.
On the day of the protests, the Zimbabwean police arrested scores of people who tried to hold peaceful demonstrations.
Mnangagwa yesterday threatened to unleash a new wave of violence on opposition political activists and human rights defenders he labeled as terrorists.
Mnangagwa accused opposition political activists and human rights defenders that were pushing for July 31 anti-corruption protests for being “bad apples” that would be rooted out.
“We will defeat the attacks and bleeding of our economy. We will overcome attempts and destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors.
“The reforms opening up liberalisation and modernisation we began shall continue with accelerated pace. Those who promote hate and disharmony will never win.
“The bad apples that have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flashed out. Good shall triumph,” Mnangagwa said. Nehanda Radio