Analyising the changing Africa political landscape. Social media and citizen activism in Zimbabwe

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010, there has been a wave of protests led by ordinary men and women with no political affiliations. In 2016 Zimbabwe also experienced its some protests led under the #ThisFlag banner calling on the citizens to protest peacefully so that the country’s political leadership can take notice of some of the issues like the economic challenges the country is facing. The recent demonstration dubbed #ZimShutDown has come as a shock even to the government which was now used to a rather docile and passive populace which went quiet after years of repression and police brutality. With this background in mind, first the paper seeks to investigate and analyse the reasons that might have galvanized ordinary citizens to take to the streets even though they were fully aware of the dire consequences of their actions. Secondly, the paper seeks to establish the extent to which social media has changed the African political landscape as most of the citizen movement protests are carried out through social media and instant message applications. Third, using the Zimbabwean case study, the paper intends to find out if the rise of citizen protests has also been matched by a corresponding decline in the influence of opposition political parties who were once the vanguard when it comes to calling on the government to account for its actions. Lastly, the paper intends to identify all the role players in this new wave of citizen activism and find out whether the citizens themselves have the ability to sustain it and see it through to the end.
Tend Chinaware . University of Fort Hare .
Gilbert Pindano . University of Cape Town .

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