'No birthday cake for Mugabe'

ZIMBABWEANS have launched an online campaign to push President Robert Mugabe to address 21 issues affecting citizens before he cuts a cake for his birthday which falls on February 21.

The campaign, which is running for 21 days from February 1 and dubbed “#21DaysOfActivism” raise issues of electoral reforms, police brutality, constitutionalism, corruption, media and freedom of expression, vendors, devolution of power, access to health care, women’s rights, service delivery, unemployment, access to education, human rights, disability issues, access to land and natural resources, state of prisons, cash crisis, alignment of the Constitution, presidential age limit, national peace and reconciliation well as students’ affairs.

Mugabe’s birthday celebrations are often contentious as they gobble about  $1 million yearly, amid poverty and economic turmoil.

“We have typhoid issues in Zimbabwe, we have service delivery issues in Zimbabwe, and we have hospitals without medicines. People are suffering, there is unemployment, vendors are being removed from the streets, and all those issues need to be resolved,” Young African Leaders Forum Zimbabwe national coordinator Linda Masarira, said in a video in support of the campaign.

“There is no freedom of expression. We are not going to allow Mugabe to have a birthday (party) this year, without resolving the 21 critical issues we are raising. Tine basa rekugadzira nyika yedu, we are the vanguards of this future; we are the future of this country. Make your voice heard, no birthday before resolving the issues.”

The Zanu PF government has been getting pressure from social movements protesting against its failure to revive the economy, introduction of bond notes, and unemployment among other issues.

In reaction, government has thwarted the protests with a heavy hand, which saw bloody clashes between protesters and police being reported last year.

However, government was recently forced to reserve a data tariff hike it had imposed through telecommunications regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), after citizens vigorously lobbied against it on social networks.

Comedian Sam Monro better known as Comrade Fatso added to the campaign saying: “We will continue the #21DaysOfActivism until our voices are heard. Put the people before your birthday cake. Chete! #ThisFlag.”

Duduzile Nyirongo ‏@dudumo tweeted “Mr President before you eat your cake we demand access for all to quality health care services #21daysofactivism.”

#ThisFlag movement on its Twitter account posted: “Today is February 6th. Access to education is enshrined in our Constitution. #21daysofactivism #ThisFlag. Uncollected refuse now a common site in Harare. A breeding space for waterborne diseases #21daysofactivism.” —Bridget Mananavire

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