Zimbabweans are going about their daily duties as usual despite calls by social media activists described by government as ‘cyber-terrorists’ having called for a total shutdown. This was the third of such calls since July this year.
The activists had called for the nationwide shutdown to protest corruption, economic hardship and police brutality. The latter has been common in recent weeks during anti-government protests.
Today, August 31 marks the third call for a shutdown in the past two months by the #ThisFlag movement. The first shutdown was successful as public and private sector employees stayed at home. The second was not as successful as the first.
People are tweeting about how transport operations and usual traffic is seen in the capital and other major areas, a sign that the stay away call had not been heeded.
A 2nd failed shut down makes one believe that social media calls for a shut down aren't the most viable means of achieving one. #ZimShutDown— Christopher Farai (@Chrisposure) August 31, 2016
The #ThisFlag movement was started by one Pastor Evan Mawarire who was charged after the first protest with an attempt to overthrow the state. The charges were however dismissed by a court in the capital Harare.
The activists are using Twitter hashtags like #ZimShutdown #ThisFlag #Tajamuka to signify the protest.
Police presence in streets of major towns
As at Wednesday morning, local media reports that the Zimbabwe Republic Police were out on the streets in riot gear in the capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe’s challenges: Persistent protests and economic hurdles
Since June this year, Zimbabwe has experienced a series of protests against the economic policies of the government. The country was experiencing serious currency shortages especially the United States dollar.
The government have been unable to pay civil servants as scheduled in the past two months. Social media activists described as ‘cyber terrorists’ have succeeded in organizing protests that have often been broken up by police using batons and tear gas.
The Zimbabwean government is drafting a law to penalize “abusive” usage of social media with five-year jail terms.