Claiming back their flag

By Imran Ali

PROTEST BANNER: Josh Scrooby from Whangarei lays the groundwork for the #thisflag protest by Zimbabweans  in Auckland last weekend. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
PROTEST BANNER: Josh Scrooby from Whangarei lays the groundwork for the #thisflag protest by Zimbabweans in Auckland last weekend. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Zimbabweans in Northland have not ruled out organising a silent protest against Robert Mugabe's regime as calls for the 92-year-old president to step down intensify globally.

Zimbabwe-born Paulette Scrooby, who lives in Whangarei, was among 17 Northlanders who joined in a peaceful demonstration under the hashtag #thisflag in Auckland last Saturday.

Worldwide protests, both online through #thisflag movement and staged demonstrations followed a heartfelt plea by Pastor Evan Mawarire of Zimbabwe, calling for compatriots to claim back their flag, and for an end to alleged corruption and human rights abuses under Mugabe.

Those who have traditionally supported Mugabe - the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence 36 years ago - such as the Zimbabwe War Veterans' Association, were adding their voices for him to quit.

Ms Scrooby said between 100 and 120 people protested with flags and banners at the Wynyard Quarter's Te Wero Island. She said more Northlanders were keen to participate but could not attend.

"The common thread was people could not stop smiling. It was wonderful to see Zimbabweans from all walks of life come together in solidarity." She said it was an opportunity for people to hear messages they would not normally hear, including from Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse and Labour MP Phil Twyford.

A similar protest is planned for Christchurch, she said. On the possibility of a similar event in Whangarei, she said: "If there's interest, then I'll think about it. I am not ruling out that possibility."

Mugabe plans to run for president again in 2018. His reign has been marked by economic decline, repression of dissent, vote-rigging, mass unemployment and emigration.

- Northern Advocate

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