Bridget Mananavire 20 February 2017
HARARE – The Kariba church of incarcerated “Mugabe-must-go” cleric,
Phillip Mugadza, has disintegrated – with his fearful congregants moving
to other churches as the activist clergyman continues to languish in
remand prison in Harare.
In a heart-rending case which has received significant publicity locally
and abroad, Mugadza has been kept in jail ever since he was arrested mid
last month, after he controversially “prophesied” that President Robert
Mugabe would die this year.
Speaking in interviews with the Daily News in Kariba last week, fellow
clerics in the town and Mugadza’s former parishioners at his FROM p1
Remnant Church expressed the fear that they could suffer retribution
because of his activism.
“It has not been an easy time for us since he was imprisoned. People have
understandably left because they feared that authorities could also
descend on them in the mistaken belief that they also want to protest
against the government like he has been doing,” one former congregant
A local cleric said they had felt compelled to distance themselves from
Mugadza after he began his activism, as continuing to associate with him
might have sent “the wrong signals” to the government.
“We do pray for him, our town, our country and for the government but we
do not want to involve ourselves in politics. As for his church, it no
longer exists,” the cleric said.
Another one of Mugadza’s former congregants, Anwell Bepe, said the
clergyman had been open with his parishioners about his activist
“The man of God has a deep passion for his country and that is what pushed
him to do what he was doing. Even before he formed his church, everyone
here in Kariba knows that he fasted for 40 days for Zimbabwe,” Bepe told
the Daily News.
Mugadza has been wasting away in remand prison since January 19 when he
was charged and then denied bail following his arrest for his “prophesy”.
A fortnight ago, the Harare Magistrates’ Court deferred by a further two
weeks his case, saying it was too busy to deal with his matter.
Mugadza first hit the headlines in December 2015 when he mounted a one-man
protest against Mugabe in Victoria Falls, during Zanu PF’s national
conference at the resort, where he held a placard that read: “Mr
President, the people are suffering. Proverbs 21:13“.
In April last year, he also chained himself to a pole while holding a
cross in one hand and a Bible in another, in a daring protest action in
This time, the Remnant Church pastor is being charged with “criminal
insult”, as well as undermining the authority of the president over his
controversial prophecy which has caused palpable anger within sections of
Zanu PF – which is riven by its seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional
and succession wars.
The outspoken Mugadza faces six months’ imprisonment, or a fine of $200 if
he is convicted under Section 33 of the Criminal Law.
In his controversial “prophecy”, Mugadza had claimed that he had received
a revelation that Mugabe would die in October this year.
However, he had also said that the nonagenarian could escape death by
praying fervently, fasting and publicly announcing that he did not wish to
“I am not saying I am going to be killing him on October 17, so there is
no way anybody can say to me what you have done is wrong.
“I am not going to be killing anybody, I am only saying what God told me,
that he is going to die,” he said then.
Another activist cleric, Evan Mawarire, who was arrested at the beginning
of this month, was granted bail last week after he approached the High
Court, which overturned an earlier decision by a Harare magistrate to deny
Mawarire, the founder of the #ThisFlag movement, had been arrested on
February 1 at the Harare International Airport, upon his surprise return
from the United States of America where he had been living in self-imposed
Mawarire is facing serious allegations of trying to subvert a
constitutionally-elected government, which could see him serve up to 20
years in prison if convicted.