#ThisFlag and #ThisGown Cyber Protests in Zimbabwe: Reclaiming Political Space

Gukurume, Simbarashe
Taylor & Francis Group
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African Journalism Studies
African Journalism Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2017, pp. 49-70

Recently there has been an increasing appropriation of and research on social media technologies in public protests. Thus, taking the #ThisFlag and #ThisGown movements in Zimbabwe, this article examines the role of social media as a mobilising tool in social movements and the creative appropriation of social media technologies by citizens to reclaim their political voices and spaces. I argue that social media continues to be central in mobilising protests for various online and offline activities. Further, it is also argued in this article that social media provided a discursive space for ordinary citizens' voices to articulate their problems and to challenge the excesses of the government, which is epitomised by endemic corruption and bad governance and has caused massive unemployment and plummeted the Zimbabwean economy. In fact, social media technologies created a virtual community of dissent that actively fostered counter-hegemonic discourses, hence affording the hitherto supressed voices an audible voice against the authoritarian Mugabe government. I conclude that social media was an instrumental tool for protesters to organise, strategise and congregate regardless of their temporal and spatial locations. The article is based on qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews with 15 activists, participant observation, as well as secondary sources and Netnography.

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CITATION: Gukurume, Simbarashe. #ThisFlag and #ThisGown Cyber Protests in Zimbabwe: Reclaiming Political Space . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2017. African Journalism Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2017, pp. 49-70 - Available at: http://library.africa-union.org/thisflag-and-thisgown-cyber-protests-zimbabwe-reclaiming-political-space

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