Social-Media the Disruptive Innovation in Zimbabwe
It’s not that ZANU cannot see change coming, it is evidently visible to them, the problem is that they, as an organisation with the leadership they have, are unable to unlearn the practices, they have cultivated over the past 35 years.
Now for the really bad news…
For ZANU, it must be hard to anticipate when the next social-media driven earthquake will hit – arrogance, ignorance, inertia combined with being too invested in the existing socio-economic system, collectively act as blinkers to the paradigm shifts that now surround them. However, for #THISFLAG and other social-media movements, finding a solution beyond merely calling for a change in administrative behaviours is significantly more complex than they probably thought and could turnout to be something of an Achilles heal. However the actions of #THISFLAG have served to provoke the conversation.
The truth, is that to implement the kind of changes that #THISFLAG is demanding, there is a hidden cost to the transformation. That cost, is that, the change cannot be implemented by the current incumbents ruling Zimbabwe. It is not they can’t do it, but rather for the reasons given above they don’t know how to and new ideas from outside the ZANU collective are treated with suspicion in the first instance. The #THISFLAG movement as a strategy, will find it tough to stay the course in order to bring about some level of meaningful administrative change that is deemed more conventional. An alternative view is that perhaps that is not their role.
In order to disrupt the prevailing socio-economic-political condition, it is imperative to show the citizens and other stakeholders that a substitution of ideas is occurring and that the substitution is occurring at speed. However there is one crucial element to this picture that is missing: a Message which goes beyond change; a Message which provides robust identifiable socio-economic-political solutions that the people of Zimbabwe can collectively endorse as ‘THEIR plan’, ‘THEIR goal’, and finally ‘THEIR outcome’.
The morning after the day before…
This message must be something that the Zimbabwean citizen must be talking about now, and those hypotheses will find sense in research and further investigation. The proposed solutions must be published and in the wild for all to see and challenge. There is little room or time to keep potential solutions hidden away, only to be wheeled out after some future election victory. The proposed solutions have to be open-sourced. They must be part of the national dialogue and public discourse; it must be communicated to the citizens of Zimbabwe and the wider global community. A theory that could become a reality, which becomes an implementation and that, represents the change every citizen is waiting for. Therein lies the strength of the disruptor, taking advantage of the social-media landscape and the collective group-think of the citizenry.
Therefore here is a basic question: “When do new things become recognised?”
When people use a common label to coherently group a set of things that share a set of defining features or values. Just like when you say ‘Musangano’, or ‘Gushungo’, or ‘Jongwe’ one knows exactly what is being referred to. If one was to go and say ‘#THISFLAG’ in some Zimbabwean rural backwater, at this stage in the game would that illicit the brand recognition it has in the urban and metropolitan areas of the country? Probably not yet but that is changing.
Therefore the social-media movements in Zimbabwe must begin the evolution of moving beyond being just a call to action. They must align themselves with the idea of finding and polishing proposals that will provide economic and social solutions for Zimbabwe and its citizens. The solutions just like the protest stratagems must be more innovative than the Bond Notes being proposed and more sustainable than the proposal to join a common currency union with South Africa. #THISFLAG must have an identifiable set of characteristics that resonate with the citizens at all levels of the real world social strata, both urban and rural.
Right now #THISFLAG and other social-media movements, sadly like a lot of the more formal political parties in Zimbabwe; ZimPF, MDC, MDC-T et al are just a commotion and not as coherent as they could be in terms of the future state, what happens the day after victory. The current crop of social-media movements have one thing going for them, the fact that the best predictor of the future is the behaviours of the past… They should not make the mistakes, past groups have made, and the opponent is to an extent a known quantity.
In conclusion for any individual or organization coming forward with an socio-economic blueprint for Zimbabwe, the social-media movements like #THISFLAG are the ideal petri-dish into which any disruptive new ideas put forward as solutions for the existing problems can be tested, examined, edited and rebuilt. However for that to happen the ideas need to be put out in the public domain, preferably before any kind of victory.