Zimbabwe's Biggest City Shut Down To Protest Everything Going Wrong In Zimbabwe

Activists used the hashtag #ThisFlag to help organize a near total shutdown of the capital over the lack of economic opportunity in the country.

The streets of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital and largest city, were quiet on Wednesday morning.

...Very quiet.

Which is to say that, thanks to a protest organized to show Zimbabweans' displeasure with their country's current state, they were completely empty as people stayed home in droves.

#ShutDownZimbabwe2016 #strathavenHarare #thisflag

Zimbabwe has been in an economic tailspin for the better part of two decades now, having taken a nosedive back in the early 2000s.

The #ThisFlag movement that helped promote Wednesday's protest began back in April, when Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire posted a video to his Facebook, praising his country's flag and denouncing the hardships it has faced.

Facebook: video.php

As the video went viral, racking up over 100,000 views, more and more people began carrying the flag everywhere they went as a form of protest.

Zimboz everywhere getting bolder & bolder Its getting crazy #ThisFlag is alive again. We can't go on like this!!

Though the original video didn't specifically mention Mugabe, it became popular enough that the government dismissed it as a "political stunt."

The fad or thing is not Zim but your political stunt which has nothing to do with the flag. Politics. Handei tione! https://t.co/nq3gwaP586

Things came to a head on Wednesday as the capital basically ground to a halt.

I'm proud to be Zimbabwean today, finally we are starting to speak with one voice. #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 #thisflag

The shutdown was mostly calm, though a little eerie judging by the pictures Zimbabweans posted on Twitter.

POWERFUL! 👊 Zimbabweans standing together against "corruption, injustice & poverty". #ThisFlag #ZimShutDown2016

Shops closed, no Transport, Harare CBD deserted. What a day! #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 #thisflag

A picture speaks a thousand words 6 July 2016 #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 #ShutDownZim #ThisFlag

Seke bridge this morning...#ShutDownZimbabwe2016

But things didn't go entirely smoothly. There were several arrests throughout the day, some protesters burned tires in Harare's streets, and at times the WhatsApp messaging service was taken down entirely.

The shutdown is also just the latest of events lashing out at the government for failing to provide basic services.

It comes on the heels of civil servants, mostly teachers and nurses who haven't been paid in a month, going on strike on Monday and taxi drivers clashing with security forces on Tuesday over claims of extortion.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government is reportedly warning citizens that "social media abuse" can be easily tracked.

We demand freedom they threaten draconian controls.What is wrong with this lot #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 #ThisFlag🇿🇼 👇🏿

Mawarire, for his part, lauded the success of the action and called for his countrymen and women to repeat the process next week.

Thank you citizens & the way forward #ThisFlag #ZimShutDown

"If we are not hearing from you, government, next week on Wednesday we shut down and this time we shut down another day — Wednesday and Thursday," he said in a video posted Wednesday evening.

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