It has been widely reported that there was a huge “drama” in the Zimbabwe National Assembly in Parliament this week when the house speaker ordered two opposition ministers to get rid of the national flags they had brought to the session. VOA #News Zimbabwe reported that Trevor Saruwaka and Godfrey Sithole, of the Movement for Democratic Change, refused to take out their flags and the Sergeant at Arms was reported to have tried to forcibly eject them. The flags were only removed after the two lawmakers were threatened with suspension.
It is hard to verify all the information that comes out on social media, and time will tell if the current speculation that the #Government is on the verge of passing a law that will make it illegal to display the national flag outside of government institutions is more than a rumor.
Nevertheless, whilst such a ban may sound incredible to outsiders, this could be just one more law that will add to the host of laws that make it very difficult for opposition movements of any kind to operate in the country.
How would the ban impact on everyday life?
If the ban is passed, what would it mean in terms of everyday life? Tourists to the country can buy ashtrays, beer mugs, and souvenirs with the flag displayed.
Vendors selling the items will no longer be able to display or sell them. Car stickers of the flag will become illegal. Flying the flag in gardens could land people on the wrong side of the law. Wearing the flag draped around the shoulders would probably make the wearer a target of the State Security Police. The National flag of Zimbabwe is earning the very poor market vendors some money as they are a hot selling item. Those vendors will lose their investment and lose out on their meager income.
Similar bans not politically motivated.
Zimbabwe would not be the first country to pass a law of this nature, but they might be the first to ban their own flag for political reasons. It was reported by The Hindu, that in India earlier this month, the government passed orders that “the manufacturing of plastic national flags,” the distribution and public display of them must cease. They explained that the government order clearly stated that “the national flag must be used only in a manner consistent with the provisions of the flag code.” In this case, polluting the streets with plastic was cited as the reason for the ban. .
What does the #ThisFlag movement want?
The #ThisFlag citizen’s movement in Zimbabwe is demanding accountability from their government over corruption issues, an end to police brutality, an end to the overbearing number of Police roadblock checkpoints and the lifting of import bans that impact a nation subsisting on market trade, amongst other similar grievances.
Newsday carried a story about a 19-year-old woman traveling to a hospital who died from a medical condition as the bus she was in was delayed at a checkpoint for over an hour. This is they type of thing that the Quiet Revolution want to see stopped.
#ThisFlag is a popular movement.
Their peaceful protest which has been marked by mass stay-aways and a social media campaign crashed into the spotlight when the Zimbabwe government charged Pastor Evan Mawarire with treason-related charges. Although he was freed by the magistrate and is currently in South #Africa, the movement has not lost momentum and there is an ongoing discussion about formulating a strategy to plan the way forward.
The video that started it all.
This enraged 92-year old president Robert Mugabe who has been at the government helm for 36 years. He lashed out at Pastor Evan Mawarire, saying he is not a true man of God, accusing him of being sponsored by western countries such as the USA and France, and telling him to stay out of Zimbabwe. The #ThisFlag video that the pastor made back in April was a simple message of despair at what the flag should mean and what it has translated to in everyday life for many people who are jobless and living in poverty.