Arrests will only serve to embolden people

Zimbabwean authorities yesterday displayed an astounding propensity to shoot themselves in the foot with the arrest of Evan Mawarire, a cleric who inadvertently started the This Flag campaign.

Source: Arrests will only serve to embolden people – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 13, 2016

That Mawarire had become the face of the protests against President Robert Mugabe and his government is beyond doubt, but by arresting him and the likes of Tajamuka leader, Promise Mkwananzi, authorities have shown they are a bungling lot with no clue how to handle the present situation.

The government has been at pains to say last week’s stay away was a flop, but arresting Mawarire and Mkwananzi tells a different story — that of a government that is panicking and is groping at straws, as it fears the sun is setting on it.

Mawarire and Mkwananzi may have been arrested, but far from being silenced, they are already emerging as voices that shall galvanise Zimbabweans against this seemingly clueless government.

It is laughable that Mawarire is being accused of inciting violence when he has advocated for peace in all the videos he has shared and asked for God’s guidance.

Had the cleric advocated for any violence, it is highly unlikely that he would have gained so-much support so soon.

What the police have done is elevate Mawarire to martyrdom and this arrest will certainly backfire for the police and whoever authorised this heavy-handed exhibition of power.

In the same regard, it is heartening to see that a number of preachers are finding their voice and speaking out increasingly about what they see as the wrong direction the country is taking.

Recently, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader, Walter Magaya and Emmanuel Makandiwa of the United Family International Church have added their voices to growing concerns the country was headed the wrong way and would soon crash.

Government will predictably react very strongly to what the two preachers said, but authorities should know that they are only voicing their congregants’ concerns.

The government cannot accuse every dissenting voice of being sponsored by the West, but rather should ask why so many people are speaking out at almost the same time and why the church, historically wary of engaging in politics, is suddenly this vocal.

Mugabe’s government can arrest as many people as they like, but one day Zimbabweans will ask in unison, just as Bob Marley sang several years ago, how long shall they kill our prophets, while they stand aside and look?

It is high time the government stopped responding with force and engaged its citizens, otherwise, when the story of this period is written, the current lot will be seen as nothing more than an error of history, whose demise was celebrated far and wide.

We join other citizens in demanding Mawarire’s release and an end to the harassment of anyone who opposes the government.