Source: Editorial Comment – Mawarire: Same script, different cast | The Herald July 14, 2016
WE cannot put it any better than the parable of the lucky donkey as related by South African president Jacob Zuma in the aftermath of the formation of the Congress of the People led by former ANC stalwart, Mosioua Lekota.
Zuma said the donkey that carried Jesus Christ into Jerusalem naively thought the hosannas and adulation were directed at it and in that naiveté chose to return to the city on its own where it was met with stones and whips.
The Flag Pastor, one Evan Mawarire, a man known more for reciting the bands on the National Flag than ministering the Word of God — we can say — reminds us of that naive ass.
Earlier this month, Mawarire and his shadowy social media pals lobbied for what they called ‘‘Shutdown Zimbabwe 2016” which was to be the mother of all stayaways aimed at forcing President Mugabe from office.
It is important to point out here that President Mugabe has a resounding, five-year mandate from millions of Zimbabweans while Mawarire, who ironically speaks in pluralistic terms, represents no one.
Mawarire and his cohorts cunningly scheduled the July 6 attempted shutdown to coincide with the Civil Service strike that Government workers had called to protest delays in the payment of their June salaries.
July 6 came and true to form, schools were closed, but several businesses were open and people went about their business unhindered.
But to Mawarire and crew, along with some hawks masquerading as diplomats in Western embassies; the shutdown call had been heeded, and they went on to call for a two-day shutdown beginning July 13, but like the proverbial donkey, they overestimated their popularity.
And as we report elsewhere in this issue, the shutdown call was unheeded.
The only highlight, which is our gripe with the State, was Evan Mawarire’s appearance at the Harare Magistrates Court; a needless charade that the State could have done without.
Here is our take.
History tells us that before any major regional, continental or international gathering, opposition groups in Zimbabwe always angle to get the spotlight on Zimbabwe to support their claims of alleged closure of democratic space and human rights abuses.
It is not coincidental that the shutdown call was scheduled to coincide with the African Union mid-term Summit underway in Kigali, Rwanda since July 10.
Mawarire and his handlers wanted to attract the attention of African leaders, this explains why he chose to surrender to the police on the eve of the proposed shutdown.
The best response the police should have given, in our opinion, would have been to record a warned and cautioned statement from Mawarire before sending him back home flag and all. As it is, by subsequently arresting him and taking him to court the police played into his hands. They are helping him build a profile he desperately wants.
‘‘Jitters as shutdown leader locked up’’, screamed one tabloid, ‘‘Government hammers protest leaders’’, echoed another. The same shrill call was replicated on the numerous pro-opposition websites.
The bottom line is, the police decision to arrest Mawarire gave him unwarranted publicity and drew unnecessary attention to Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe is on record slamming what he called “the Madhuku way of living” that sees opposition or civil society elements provoke the law, get arrested or bashed and then use the incident to unlock donor funds.
We are not saying criminal elements should be left to harass people without comebacks, no. Section 58(2) of the Constitution protects people from being compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering just as Section 59 provides for freedom to demonstrate and petition, which freedom — however — must be exercised in peace.
We are simply saying it is sometimes prudent to ignore agent provocateurs when they perspire to provoke a situation the way Mawarire was doing.