Hashtags, flags and calls for solidarity. The whole continent is buzzing with news of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Calls for prayers and for the closure of Zimbabwe embassies in various countries have intensified.
This follows reports of activists and journalists being arrested and beaten after speaking out against the government’s alleged corruption.
Now protests have erupted against the ruling Zanu-PF, which has been in power since 1980.
Citizens in the country are unable to express freedom of speech with concerns of poor healthcare, inflation and job losses.
In July, ZBC News broadcasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s enforcement of what is said to be one of the strictest lockdown measures in Africa.
Some believe these restrictions come in light of a nationwide protest that was planned for the end of July. According to News24, thousands of people have been arrested for violating these restrictions.
However, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono challenged the government by writing an exposé on corruption involving Covid-19 supplies.
He was then arrested at his home and charged with inciting public violence, as reported by BBC News. The journalist is currently awaiting his next court appearance.
Recently, they also arrested Booker Prize nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga. The author participated in an anti-government protest which took place in the country’s capital, Harare. Many of the protestors involved have been charged with inciting violence too.
Zimbabwean citizens in South Africa have had to support their fellow men and women from a distance, which has been hard.
“The rulers seem to have this entitlement to the economy and power all because they ‘liberated the nation’. It’s a shift from the ideals of what they fought for and Ubuntu,” one Zimbabwean tells us.
He wishes he was closer to home but due to the uncertainty there, he left so he can provide a stable home for himself and his family.
“What’s happening in Zimbabwe right now, for the people there, I can imagine, is depressing because the hopelessness that comes from protesting in vain is stressful. Especially when you can’t afford a basic meal. Bread in 2017 was affordable at about $1 which was about R12 at the time. Now bread is not affordable as prices went up due to inflation, but not salaries. For those outside Zimbabwe, like myself, it is the cause of a lot of anxiety as you want to do more but you can’t and you worry about your families,” he says.
There is a lot people can do to help, he believes.
“I think help could come by pressuring international organisations and leaders which have proven to be toothless dogs right now. I think awareness helps a great deal, like the people on Twitter have been doing. As citizens, we can only do so much! Diplomats need to speak out as well!”
Due to regulations that prohibit too much movement outside of one’s home, people have taken it upon themselves to use other methods for their voices to be heard. Others have taken it upon themselves to move forward with protesting.
For those who are unable to protest, here are some of the ways in which you can help:
Sign a petition
Petitions have proven to be one of the most effective ways to get people’s attention. Here are a few that you can add your signature to:
Donate to an organisation that will
There are many charities that you can donate to for financial support and anything else:
The healthcare system in Zimbabwe has been in dire need of help for some time. The fundraiser is to help support frontline healthcare professionals, including allied workers. It was started by a member of the Zimbabwean diaspora.
ZANE is a UK registered charity. According to their website, they enable “donors to help forgotten people in Zimbabwe and seeks to relieve invisible and visible suffering”.
A Wales-based independent and non-political affiliated charity that works directly with people from different communities in Zimbabwe. “Working in partnership with these communities enable us to seek holistic approaches to find solutions to overcome challenges brought by poverty and climate change.”
Write to members of parliament
Another effective way of getting government involved is by sending a letter to a local member of parliament. This letter can be written in any way, depending on what you would like your focus to be.
It is also important to write your name, address and telephone number when contacting your MPs. This is to show them how important every single letter is. This information may also be excluded during this time as the targeting of people is allegedly on the rise.