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May 18, 2016

Cleric Mawarire a voice speaking for majority

Filed under: Comment,Uncategorized — Nhaudzenyu @ 3:28 pm
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Evan Mawarire, a cleric fronting what has become known as #thisflag campaign needs the support of all pro-democracy forces in confronting Zimbabwe’s Competitive Authoritarian Regime, Zanu PF.His approach is tactful, well timed and indeed sustainable. The campaign which has so far taken the social media by storm , seeks to challenge politicians to stop corruption and start taking action by not neglecting citizens, as well as to promote the participation of ordinary citizens by challenging them to stand up for their rights. “I looked at the flag and felt like what the flag represents and the state of the country, are worlds apart,” said Pastor Evan.

In this vein, he is linking all the challenges bedeviling Zimbabwe with the supposed significance of the flag. His analysis reduces the flag to an ordinary cloth and he empirically substantiates that, this is due to inefficient and ineffective delivery of duties and obligations by the state authorities. Mawarire utilized something which the Zanu PF government has monopolized since independence. The Zanu PF flag and their party regalia, are centered on the national flag, in a similar fashion with the national anthem, holidays, shrines and memorialisations which are significant to the history of Zimbabwe.

In this context the use of the national flag in the corner of the oppressed is very tactical. The dimension brought about by Mawarire returns ownership of the flag to other Zimbabweans who are deemed second class citizens by the Zanu PF regime. To me ,it is synonymous with the campaign dubbed ,”Our Country Too” which Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition ,a conglomeration of Civic Society Organizations once embarked on in 2007 to push the government to recognize all citizens including those in opposition parties and civic society.

#This Flag Campaign falls under non-violent engagement strategies in typical Mahatma Gandhi style and as prescribed by experts in using this strategy, to fight a competitive authoritarian regime, they should be dilemma actions. It is the prime purpose of this article to unpack the concept of non-violent engagement in the context of the Zanu PF autocratic government. Knowing more about the dynamics of dilemma actions can enable activists to design their actions to pose difficult dilemmas to opponents, leading opponents to make unpopular decisions, or waste their efforts preparing for several possible responses.

A dilemma action is a type of non-violent civil disobedience designed to create a “response dilemma” or “lose-lose” situation for public authorities by forcing them to either concede some public space to protesters or make themselves look absurd or heavy-handed by acting against the protest.

#thisflag campaign should be broadened to the majority of Zimbabweans who are wallowing in poverty due to the poor governance of the Zanu PF regime. During a live radio program on Zifm featuring Mawarire, I was touched with a testimony from one caller who said, “I have no savings, they were wiped out in 2008. People died, we cannot speak because we are scared. You know how people died in 2008 in areas like Mutoko and Murewa. It was terrible. We are happy with the campaign and I am sure many people are supporting him (Mawarire). We want answers and we are supporting this campaign. At 62, I am still trying to buy and sell for survival, it’s hard,” the caller said. This is a true reflection of what many Zimbabweans are feeling, but they cannot express themselves. This campaign if well executed, it’s bound to bring out of the shells, most Zimbabweans with a similar predicament.
The fact that Super Mandiwanzira was waiting for Mawarire outside the studio and began shouting at him, calling him all sorts of names and accusing him of seeking to subvert the government is a testimony of the impact of Mawarire’s protest message to the authorities. Mandiwanzira is not the only Zanu PF zealot to be offended by this alternative dimension of the flag. Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo has also had a social media altercation with Mawarire, whose campaign has gained traction with each passing day.

Core concepts of successful nonviolent action are support, careful planning and strong leadership. It is essential to have a vision and strategic plan and to develop the tactics and campaigns necessary to achieve it. Most often, movements tend to happen through local grassroots organizations and unions, in response to circumstances in a place or because of the creativity of a group of people. In addition to educating people on their rights, nonviolent action also gives people an alternative way of expressing themselves.
A dilemma action leaves the opponent with no obvious ‘best response’ — each possible choice has significant negative aspects. Even the opponent’s most attractive response will have a mix of advantages and disadvantages that are not directly comparable, as assessed at the time or in hindsight. Many nonviolent actions are reactions to what authorities do: activists respond to agendas set by others. In a dilemma action, activists are proactive.

Usually the best option for the opponents is to stop the action without anybody noticing — the activists’ strategy should then be to make it as public as possible. Something that makes a dilemma difficult is when the opponent has to compare consequences from different domains; it can be difficult to compare the benefit of an approving reaction from supporters, with negative feedback from a different audience.

A tool that proved effective and appropriate in Kenya, in the run up to elections when it was necessary to reach as many people as possible was the introduction of theater into the process. A larger audience was reached in a short period of time and mobilization became very easy.
Other examples of the use of theater to engage, educate and move people to action are seen in Bangladesh (Action Theater: Initiating Changes), in Senegal (Using Popular Theater to Break the Silence Around Violence Against Women) with the Philippine Education Theater Association and in Augusto Boil’s suite of The Theater of the Oppressed (TO) which can be used in a meaningful way to explore and build a collective understanding on a range of themes. Another tool that has been used is the use of photographs to stimulate discussion, creativity and personal disclosure and strategic thinking.

***
George Makoni is the Vice Chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted @ george.makoni@crisiszimbabwe.org/chiefmakoni@gmail.com

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May 11, 2016

Tribute to Vincent Rangwe

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — Nhaudzenyu @ 9:35 am

By Nhau Mangirazi

The passing on of Vincent Rangwe on 5 April in Kwe Kwe where he was buried is devastating and shocking for journalism and community at large.

Here was a real community journalist who was down to earth, giving the community development, press freedom and rebuilding our lost nation in a small way.

Since we are all human without power over our mortal life, Rangwe was buried in his home town but we remain gripped by the reality that we have lost a true man of few words, who used pen on behalf of oppressed masses seeking accountability and feedback from policymakers.

Rangwe is like my shadow for over 22 years professionally as we worked together at different community papers. As the light drives out the shadow standing next to me, his inspirational voice lingers in my mind forever.

For a start, I cut my teething in the journalism profession at Makonde Star in 1994 as their Karoi correspondent.

In April 1994, I had started writing for Mashonaland Telegraph after its editor Simbarashe Chabarika approached me in Karoi town that he wanted a sport reporter covering Division Two soccer as Karoi had three teams namely Karoi United, GMB Karoi and Zesa Karoi.

I was writing poems to then Radio Four and covering Nhau Dzematunhu with late Joseph Panganayi Mukaronda on then Radio Two.

Hardly a month Rangwe came to Karoi and it was easy to locate me and said he wanted me to write for them at the Makonde Star.

I agreed as it was not professional prostituting since The Star was weekly while Telegraph was biweekly.

Rangwe was more like a fatherly figure when I wrote stories covering every bit including sports, agriculture, politics, courts and arts among others.

His rare comment was ‘Nhau never mind about payment but write for your name’s sake and the community. You never know what you will gain out writing for free. Do not give up’

For that I am happy to inform you that I have written for BBC, Al Jazeera, Africa Report, The New Internationalist among other international news organisations. Also I won Media and Professional and Investigative Award in 2015 sp[sponsored by Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe.

Remember we could write mostly council budgets stories in and how some residents associations were reacting on lack of transparency in formulating budgets without involvement of stakeholders.

Makonde Star had the likes of Sibangeni Dube, Ronald Mukono with Rangwe as editor then.

It was inspiring that one issue had three budget stories from Karoi, Kadoma and Chinhoyi all on front page with our bylines. We became part of the communities through our coverage at Makonde Star on weekly bases.

I was happy that I was part of a team that wanted to give the community their lost voices on issues of service delivery, accountability and proper management.

I continued contributing to both The Telegraph and The Star after Anderson Chipatiso took over from Chabarika and had the chance for rural round up that saw me covering parts of Hurungwe, Kariba and Chirundu.

In early 2000, I was contributing for national newspapers including The Herald, The Sunday Mail, Daily News and now defunct Daily Mirror from the same town.

In 2002 I switched to The Financial Gazette but continued to give Rangwe some stories.

It was the same time that mostly journalists from mainly State media did not want to associate themselves with Media Institute of Southern Africa Misa Zimbabwe, but Rangwe never compromised his freedom as he was part of a small group in Mashonaland West as advocacy member. We were few then who could not chicken out because threats by mostly ill informed politicians who think exposing the ills of an elected Government is a crime when in fact journalist have a role to play in informing, educating and entertaining the public. The thin line has since vanished through resistance by the likes of late Rangwe.

We were to meet in 2003 after new Telegraph editor Tendayi Murapa persuaded me to come to Chinhoyi to take up the post of sitting correspondent and Rangwe was senior reporter.

Together with Murapa, Takesure Tom, Rangwe and I, The Telegraph was a force to reckon with breaking hard stories affecting the communities. It was must every Friday that nurses at Chinhoyi School of nursing, Chinhoyi municipality workers, Karoi, Kadoma and Hurungwe councils among others could phone and before distribution to get insights of latest exposes. I cherish those days as community based journalists with Rangwe as fountain of hope leading all the way through better guidance for us all. We could assist each other on lead stories, fine tuning of stories without jealousy but brotherhood.

Rangwe always insisted on investigative journalism but few took it seriously then as we always suspected that some whistle blowers in councils had axes to grind with management. Sales representatives feared the paper could lose out on revenue through adverts.

Rangwe was a different character as he used to say if the story is good no advertiser would go forever.

Through that I never wanted to sell space for adverts so that I could remain independent through my own investigation. I am glad to say it has paid off through Rangwe’s foresight, journalism freedom and independence.

We were to part ways in 2005 after I retreated to Karoi for broadcasting and international correspondence when he later joined Illanga after New Ziana move for more community newspapers throughout the country.

Although I later joined The Financial Gazette, few journalists understand the value of patriotism, professionalism, commitment, rare talent shown by Rangwe who could take criticism as a gift that is  given for free. He never wanted to join national papers but remained in a low profile with community newspapers and being part of the society. That is his different character with many of us who wanted to get publicity on national or international new organization, but Rangwe remained humble, a lesson for most of us.

Rangwe had many friends and foes alike as in journalism profession but he was ready to engage anyone and resolve the difference with unassuming nature, humility and down to earth approach.

Such was a man who believed in press freedom and community development.

To you my friend, brother and characteristic shadow of perseverance, determination, truth, press freedom champion, Vincent Rangwe; you played your part in the profession throughout the country giving the communities their voices.

Vincent by the way what does your name mean, I never asked but you will be sadly missed in Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, South, Manicaland, Masvingo as well as Midlands you final resting place. Mine means news meaning naturally I am news gatherer so it is within my blood to write stories.

Rangwe, my final words, Give us strength to remain unshaken in the midst of our social, political and economical crisis where we need more journalists like you to stand up for the oppressed masses whose voices remain unheard by authorities.

Unfortunately you are gone and many journalists are still singing the same old song of poor payment, abuse by the rich and political manipulation.

Go well our real journalist brother.

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