Protest at the Test match: Mawarire

#Thisflag movement leader Pastor Evan Mawarire has asked Zimbabweans to take advantage of the Test match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand to make a political statement.

By Kevin Mapasure

Former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower (left) and Henry Olonga were the first locals to use cricket for political protests in 2003
Former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower (left) and Henry Olonga were the first locals to use cricket for political protests in 2003

In a video released yesterday, Mwarire who is in South Africa, urged Zimbabweans to attend day one of the second Test tomorrow and use the platform for a peaceful protest against government’s ills such as corruption, injustice and poverty.

He implored protesters to stand up at the start of the 36th overs and sing the national anthem while holding the national flag.

“I want to invite you do to something really special, remember we are protesting against our government, corruption , injustice and poverty and we want them to listen to the citizens because these people don’t listen,” Mawarire says in the video. “So we have to find creative ways of protesting and making sure that they hear our voice.”

He said this gesture was also in honour of former Zimbabwe national team cricketers Henry Olonga and Andy Flower who staged the black armband protest during the 2003 International Cricket Council World Cup. Some of the matches were hosted in Bulawayo and Harare while neighbours South Africa were the main hosts.

They wore the black arm bands to “mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.”

“If you remember years ago Henry Olonga and Andy Flower had the first protest during a cricket match,” Mawarire said. “We want to pay honour for those guys for starting that first protest, to build upon the momentum of Zimbabweans everywhere who are protesting against this government and saying enough is enough, we don’t want our country to be trashed anymore.”

He said that the cricket match platform was good as the protest will be viewed international since the match will be shown live in countries such as England and New Zealand.

“Here is what I want you to do, go to the cricket match on Saturday and take your flag with you. When the 36th over starts you and I are going to say for the 36 years we have been quiet (we are) now standing up. In the 36th over I want you to sing the national anthem they can’t shut us up, they can’t arrest you for singing the national anthem.

Everyone covering the game will have to catch it, ZBC will turn the cameras away, but they can’t shut the voice down.”

Cricket has been used for political statements and the British government has maintained an embargo on Zimbabwe touring their country.

The England national cricket team has also been under a ban from touring Zimbabwe by their government.

England declined to tour Zimbabwe for the 2003 World Cup. Australia and New Zealand for a period also chose not to tour Zimbabwe but later restored relations with Zimbabwe Cricket.