Hashtag Trends: #LSESAfrica #ThisFlag

The LSE’s Institute of Public Affairs and the Africa Centre organised a public lecture to explore the views of leader of the South Africa opposition on “Protecting South Africa’s Fragile Democracy”. #LSESAfrica was trending according to several sites with top tweets coming from accounts like the @AudienceNet (engaging in the Millennial Dialogue), @alechogg (prominent editor and publisher) and @AfricaInsights (progressive independent not-for-profit think tank) just to mention a few.


#LSEAfrica continued to populate timelines because the leader of the Democratic Alliance (@our_DA), Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) fortifeid the importance of strong institutions for effective democratic process. He challenged the continued protracted liberation rhetoric, and the need for Africa to be “liberated from the Liberators”. He spoke of how he aims to professionalise the public service, keeping in mind the voter is the principle in this contract.


What took the Vetkoek for me was his ideas on leadership (I hope you enjoyed the South African reference). His ideals embodied leadership, African leadership that the continent is hungry for. Mmusi spoke eloqunetly on the value of quality leadership. Leadership that welcomes and expects contraints to ensure effectiveness. This struck a chord personally because as a young African I question my idea of leadership.

As a Master of Public Administration candidate, I am on a course full of leaders. I was personally over-joyed to learn that Mmusi Maimane is himself a Master of Public Administration, it shows. LSE has plenty of opportunities to nurture leaders but the greatest opportunity must be the Programme for African Leaders (PfAL) from the LSE Africa Centre. Its rigor and collaborative nature shapes African leaders that will pave the way for a more democratic Africa.

Another surprising fact about Mmusi is his role as a pastor in South Africa and how that feeds into his political career. After the lecture I asked him about the road from the pulpit to the podium #ThisFlag (the other hashtag trending) that promted me to ask that question. This trend exemplifying voter-led protest, is still trending on all social media platforms and the story was picked up by the Guardian. A pastor’s conviction of the value of his Zimbabwean flag and his question for the government pertinent issues like the then proposed issuing of bond notes into the Zimbabwean economy.

Catch the full heated controversial interview between Evan Mawarire (@PastorEvanLive, leader of the #ThisFlag, and Tafadzwa Musarara, a Zanu-PF loyalist.

Tafadzwa’s main point was how #ThisFalg was highlighting issues and not offering solutions to the problems in Zimbabwe (supported view from Zanu-PF Youths). Evan Mawarire in his rebuttal highlighted that the government has been elected to serve the people of Zimbabwe, they are ther to provide the solutions. As a voter he is merely holding them accountable.

Then the Twitter wars ensued…


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Zanu-PF officials hurled insults and even created a counter hashtag #OurFlag to try divert the agency-led momentum but it failed to take hold. #OurFlag even used to share some Union-Jack/#Brexit love on Twitter.

Since then the dialogue has begun and the electorate had a opportunity to address the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on his plans to issue bond notes to the ease liquidity crisis.

From the interview, it seemed Evan Mawarire being a pastor was used to discredit him and I was curious to know Mmusi’s struggles in fostering confidence as the people’s politician when his views can be seen as ‘tainted’ or ‘deminished’ by religion.”It takes personal conviction” Mmusi said to me, after admiting how much it was not easy. I see that strong personal conviction in the #thisflag creator. Both working hard for change, one using opposition-led protest and the other electorate-led protest. Either way, I hope both Evan Mawarire and Mmusi Maimane continue to pave the way for the new breed of leadership to walk the African soil.

More on #LSESAfrica – Protecting South Africa’s Fragile Democracy

Politics in Africa should not be a contestation of people

but a contestation of ideas and ideals

Mmusi touched on why nations fail from his perspective and he stressed the negative impact of public protectors, appointed through ‘cadre employment’, who serve the agenda of the incumbent. He urged the importance of the private sector in the process of nation building, whether it is supporting BEE or land reform. Business can lead the way in solving the problem of inequality. Yes, BEE came up during Q&A and after slight accusations hon DA being vague on the subject, I believe he was direct in outlining their strategies to ensure broad-based economic empowerment. His party’s idea of score-cards will distrupt the patronage practises rife in BEE efforts.

Mmusi Maimane has a firm grip on what he thinks politicians owe the voter. Dr Katie Orkin from Merton College Oxford presented how for voters need politicians to, “build the conviction that their vote matters”. It is the old faithful “mi-trust of politicians”, not just the young, the rural folk, various individuals from various demographics had a dimished trust in the opposition. How could they trust the new kid on the block, since independence results have only ever come from the incumbent party – the ANC.

Dr Orin challenged him on his strategies for targetting rural voters. I believe he was right that the complexity of entrenched patronage newtorks in rural areas makes it difficult to manoevre in the sparsely populated rural towns. He did stick up for the rural youth, saying they are just as politically engaged as any youth from town. (*dancing lady emoji for the gains of the spread of mobile tech to all places in Africa). So for now he will work with the space has been given in the rural space – schools and social media. He prides himself in using his own Twitter handle for more authentic engagement with the electorate.

He had so many wisdom nuggets for enthusiasts and critics alike.. here are some of my favourite (loosely paraphrased) quotes:

~ As a leader, Subject yourself to institutional democracy

~ Democracy should be a transformative process and not a transactive one

~ Property rights require policy posture

I still have questions on crime in South Africa and question how well the DA’s manifesto proposes to address this problem and I wonder about Xenophobia’s rating on the attention scale.

He speaks today at Chatham House: “South Africa’s Opposition: Fostering Debate, Accountability and Good Governance”, my questions will hopefully be addressed and I look forward to joining the debate.