In a renewed attempt to curb the flag fury of Zimbabweans otherwise known as the sweeping This Flag campaign, the country’s government is instituting a crackdown on perceived abuses of the Zimbabwean flag.
Zimbabwe’s justice ministry has released a statement detailing some of the ways in which the use of the Zimbabwean flag could incur the wrath of appropriate authorities.
For one, those who bring the Zimbabwean flag into disrepute face a $200 (£154) fine and/or six months in jail. The statement also added that no one is allowed to sell the flag without prior permission from the ministry.
Considering the flags have stood as a symbol for the This Flag campaigners who opine their displeasure at the country’s government through protests, the justice ministry’s new edict is seemingly a means to dissuade the campaign.
Pastor Evan Mawarire started the movement back in April after he wrapped a flag around his neck and posted a video on Facebook calling for Zimbabweans who were fed up with the government to come together to call for change. The flag has been brandished as a symbol of dissent since then.
Evan Mawarire Protested In New York On Tuesday With The Zimbabwean Flag Around His Neck
Evan Mawarire, who disappointed some followers after he fled the country to New York, posted a video on Facebook on Tuesday and his flag was not missing as he protested outside the UN headquarters with the trusty flag wrapped around his neck. President Robert Mugabe is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
Justice Ministry official Virginia Mabiza said in the statement;
“Members of the public who engage in any action or activity, which involves the manufacture, sale or use of the national flag in contravention of the law are therefore warned that they are liable to prosecution and are liable to imprisonment if they are found guilty by a court of law.”
This new bit of legislation is in addition to the recent police ban on marches in the capital, Harare, until mid-October. Still, the protesters do not seem to be slowing down.
Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of a younger set of activist protesting under the Tajamuka banner, has dismissed the justice ministry’s warning. In his words to Reuters news agency;
“It is total insanity that government should ban citizens from using their own flag. We are going to continue to make use of our flag. It is our identity.”
It is left to see how far the justice ministry will go in enforcing the edict on the Zimbabwean flag.