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activism on the rise in South Africa
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
November 26, 2007
A group known as 'Zimbabwe
Democracy Now' is causing quite a stir in South Africa after putting
up over 5 large billboards in Johannesburg, all with a call for
action on Zimbabwe's crisis. Washington Times journalist Geoff Hill
told Newsreel that the billboards seem to have been put up between
Saturday and Sunday this weekend, although officials from the organisation
are unwilling to confirm the exact date. Hill says he accompanied
someone travelling to Zimbabwe and dropped them off at the Park
Station bus terminus. There he was met by a huge billboard with
the words, 'Zimbabweans Demand; POWER TO THE PEOPLE; We demand,
one citizen, one vote, independently run elections and an end to
Several journalists have
also confirmed sighting similar billboards in a number of other
Johannesburg locations including Orange Grove suburb, Thembisa Township
and Diepsloot in Soweto. The other design for the billboards reads,
'There is a reason so many Zimbabweans are in South Africa: FREEDOM.'
The message ends with the same demand for independently run elections.
Hill managed to speak
to a woman activist who is part of Zimbabwe Democracy Now and she
confirmed they were behind the first billboard that was erected
in Musina in October. At that time armed South African police, accompanied
by 9 soldiers in a troop carrier, swooped on the two advertising
workers erecting the billboard. The billboard read, 'We know why
you are in South Africa: Life in Zimbabwe is Murder; But please
go back to vote in March. We can all be free.' Musina city council
allegedly ordered it to be pulled down, before a backlash from the
media, politicians and the courts forced a u-turn and the billboard
was left alone.
It's now unlikely the
authorities will tamper with the wave of new billboards sprouting
up all over Johannesburg. Hill says it will take a very bold politician
to try and get them pulled down. The people behind the campaign
want to remain anonymous but the one who spoke to Hill said Zimbabwe
Democracy Now is a coalition of church and NGO groups that work
in and outside Zimbabwe. The publicity surrounding the first billboard
in Musina has apparently helped them secure more funding to put
up more billboards in South Africa.
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