Bridget Mananavire 5 February 2017
HARARE – The case of two activist clergymen, Evan Mawarire and Patrick
Phillip Mugadza – who are both languishing in prison for expressing
dissenting views against President Robertv Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF
– has heightened fears that the government will batter its critics
savagely in the run-up to next year’s eagerly-anticipated national
Mawarire, the founder and campaign leader of the #ThisFlag movement, was
denied bail by Harare magistrate Elisha Singano on Friday, following his
arrest on Wednesday, after he made a surprise return to the country from
the United States where he had been living for six months in self-imposed
He will spend the next two weeks in prison unless the High Court gives him
relief tomorrow. FROM P1
He has been charged with subverting a constitutionally-elected government
and if convicted, he could be jailed for up to 20 years.
On his part, Mugadza was arrested last month after he controversially
“prophesied” Mugabe’s death which he claimed would happen before the end
of this year. He is also languishing in prison after failing to get bail
The well-known “Mugabe-must-go” churchman first hit the headlines in
December 2015 when he mounted a one-man protest against the nonagenarian
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“.
Political analysts and civil society leaders who spoke to the Daily News
on Sunday yesterday said the sad tale of the two pastors clearly showed
that the Zanu PF government did not mean well ahead of next year’s
Nevertheless, civic leader Gladys Hlatywayo said the arrest of the two
clerics was consistent with Zanu PF’s undemocratic disposition.
“It is a continuation of the sick narrative that has been promoted by Zanu
PF over the years that `politics is for politicians’ and that the church
must restrict itself to simply praying for leaders no matter how evil they
“As we draw closer to 2018, the regime is also keen to retain power by any
means necessary, even if it means jailing innocent citizens.
“Zimbabweans must stand together and reject such persecution from the
government. We need to adopt an `you injure one you injure all’ mentality
and fight this authoritarianism with one voice,” Hlatywayo told the Daily
News On Sunday.
“Zimbabweans from all walks of life must realise that they face the same
fate and therefore solidarity is the only way forward towards creating a
Zimbabwe that is democratic and where citizens can be happy.
“The church comprises citizens who equally suffer because of this man-made
crisis in our land. They have every right to voice concerns when evil men
and women masquerade as our national leaders.
“The Bible is awash with prophets who stood with the people and opposed
powerful rulers and elites who had strayed from the will of the Lord,”
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said the arrests were callous
and meant to instil fear into the populace ahead of next year’s elections.
“Zanu PF knows that they can never win a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe and as such, they harass, torment, arrest, imprison and abduct
all determined political and civil society activists fighting for the
establishment of a peaceful, democratic and progressive nation,” MDC
spokesman Obert Gutu said.
“The build-up to a violent and repressive election campaign for 2018 has
already begun if the recent arrest and detention of pastors Mugadza and
Mawarire is anything to go by.
“The MDC once again calls for the involvement of Sadc, the African Union
and even the United Nations both in the build-up and the actual running of
the make-or-break 2018 elections.
“Be that as it may, the MDC, working together with other progressive
opposition parties, the church, civil society, business, student movements
and organised labour is confident of forming the next government in 2018,”
Former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition executive director, McDonald Lewanika,
said the message that was being sent to citizens by Mugabe was that he was
not going to tolerate dissent as the country hurtles towards 2018.
“The arrest of pastors Mugadza and Mawarire send the same message that the
Mugabe regime has been sending to opponents since the 1980s, that it
brooks no opposition and will persecute opponents.
“This is not a new story, it’s just the cast that changes, with many
targets being consistently hounded by the regime for as long as they
remain in opposition.
“The only way that this harassment can be stopped or mitigated is through
raising the costs at home and abroad of such actions.
“At home, the resistance needs to be amplified in order to show the regime
that this persecution is not a deterrent, but rather fuels further
discontent and protest,” Lewanika said.
Mugadza who leads the Remnant Church 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
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 staggering “prophecy” last month, Mugadza 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, fasting and publicly announcing that he did not wish to die.
Civic society and pro-democracy groups leapt to Mugadza’s defence at the
time, arguing that Mugabe and Zanu PF were only comfortable with pastors
who praised them.