#ThisFlag and #ZimShutDown2016 protests are ‘sponsored’, says ANC's Gwede Mantashe

(@AmBlujay, Twitter)

(@AmBlujay, Twitter)

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), on Tuesday said it was concerned by civilian protests in Zimbabwe against President Robert Mugabe’s government which it labelled as “sponsored elements seeking regime change”.

“The struggling Zimbabwean economy, which has been going on for a long time, should not give a licence to regime change elements to revive restlessness in Zimbabwe. Every citizen of Zimbabwe should appreciate the difficulties and contribute positively in the regulation of the Zimbabwean economy,” said ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

He said South Africa would assist Zimbabwe as a fellow member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but that it was up to Zimbabweans to effect the initiative to build their country’s economy.

A social media campaign dubbed #ThisFlag and #ZimShutDown2016 saw Zimbabwean citizens stay home last week, in protest against Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF. The activists decried the ailing economy, lack of jobs and late payment of civil servants’ salaries.

The mass stay-away was a defiance against alleged government corruption and to force Mugabe to step down after being at the helm for over three decades.

Video clips and images of anti-riot police beating up citizens in an effort to suppress the protests went viral on social media. 

Activists have since indicated that a second stay-away was scheduled Wednesday and Thursday this week.

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