Local cleric and unrelenting #ThisFlag campaigner Evan Mawarire has launched an attack on President Robert Mugabe advising the long-serving leader to quit instead of wasting his energy on making scurrilous allegations against his critics.
Mugabe has made public his disdain for the clergyman whom he accused of being funded by hostile governments in his campaigns against the deepening rot in government and Zanu PF.
In one of the videos he recorded from South Africa, Mawarire said he and likeminded individuals are seeking to build the country, dispelling claims made by the Zanu PF leader that he was funded to destabilise his government.
“I could be a fake man of God, pamwe ndiri munhu waMwari wekunyebera asi kushaya chingwa ndekwechokwadi, kushaya mari ndekwechokwadi, kutambura, nzara, kurwara ndekwechokwadi, (even if I may be called a fake man of God, shortage of enough money to survive, suffering, hunger and sickness is real)…and needs attention,” Mawarire said in his video.
“And as Zimbabweans we are now calling on our president to say, (Mr) president if there can be no solution then we respectfully ask that we put in place a leader that can take us where this country needs to be. Ngatichiisai munhu anokwanisa kuti nyika ino iyi iyende painofanira kuenda (Let’s put in a befitting person) that’s all we are asking. As children of Zimbabwe surely we have the right to ask that…one day you and I will live in a Zimbabwe that we can be proud of…that day is coming.”
On Tuesday, during the burial of his former chief secretary Charles Utete in Harare, Mugabe addressed Mawarire in disparaging terms, suggesting the pastor was not a genuine cleric.
The Mawarires, I don’t even know him, and those who believe in that way of living, well, are not part of us in thinking. They are not part of us as we try to live together,” said Mugabe in his address at the Heroes Acre.
“I don’t know if he’s a man of religion. A man of religion will speak the biblical truth. First Corinthians, what does it say? Love one another. So beware these men of God. Not all of them are true preachers of the bible. I don’t know whether they are serving God. Well, we spell God (as) G.O.D, they spell in reverse (DOG).”
Mawarire helped to organise arguably the biggest general strike in the history of the country when millions of fed up Zimbabweans heeded his call to stay away from work early this month.
Dubbed the Shutdown, the strike paraylsed the dying economy as most companies closed their doors for the day.
Speaking during interviews with the international media, the emotional Mawarire narrated the ordeal and trauma he suffered after he was dragged to court for inciting public violence, a charge the State later changed to subversion of a constitutionally elected government.
“Nothing hurts me more than hearing a statement (Mugabe’s) like that because nobody loves Zimbabwe more than a Zimbabwean and it has been proved in the last couple of weeks when millions across the world and in our own country stood up to say we need a better Zimbabwe,” Mawarire said.
“We don’t need anyone to come from the outside of Zimbabwe to give me money or to tell me in my ear that I am failing to raise funds to put my children through school and that I can’t get access to health or that I am hungry.”