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#ThisFlag founder, Pastor Evan wins Global Thinker and African Person of the Year 2016 awards

Most Zimbabweans have become synonymous with the #thisflag movement started by Pastor Evan Mawarire who utilised the power of social media to pass on his message to all Zimbabweans seeking a better future for the country.

The #thisflag movement breathed life into Zimbabwe social media as many looked to understand what it was, join in on it or get updates of what was happening around the country especially during the height of the protest movement which brought some parts of the country to a standstill after calls for a stay away.

The movement became so widespread and followed that the hashtag #thisflag and #freepastorevan dominated Zimbabwe social media trends for weeks on end with some sections of the media attributing the mysterious internet downtime experienced on 6 June 2016, to the #thisflag movement as the Governments means to stifle any further civil unrest.

Now, Pastor Evan has received two awards, the first from FP Global Thinkers 2016 for initiating a democratic movement and the second from South African online news publication the Daily Maverick who named him African Person of the Year, 2016.

Since the #thisflag movement came into existence there has been a rise in the number of activists utilising social media to push their message to all Zimbabweans. We have witnessed various calls to demonstrate and protest on social media against what many activists believe to be unlawful, unjust and unconstitutional acts by the Government towards its citizens.

The continued use of social media as a tool for protest expression has brought much debate to what many feel as a gag order in the form of the Cyber Crime Bill. Many citizens have expressed their fear of being monitored on social media for any anti-government remarks which could possibly lead to their arrest, something that has happened in Tanzania after they passed their own but very similar Cyber Crime Bill.




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