President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday used the burial of a Zanu PF national hero to accuse #ThisFlag Evan Mawarire of mobilising violent anti-government protests.#Mugabe tried to denounce Mawarire but ended up making a spelling mistake in the process after saying “we spell GOD, double G.O.D.”
Mawarire used his #ThisFlag campaign to urge people to demonstrate against corruption, a worsening economic crisis and bad leadership.
Mugabe was for the first time speaking on recent popular protests that turned violent as police descended heavily on citizens calling for the immediate departure of the president and his cabinet.
He delivered the keynote address at the Heroes Acre burial of Charles Utete, the long-serving first black chief secretary to cabinet and the presidency who passed on last week.
“You can’t urge people to adopt violence… violent demonstrations as a way of life or a way of solving grievances,” said Mugabe.
“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,” Mugabe said.
“If they don’t want to live with us they should go to those countries that are sponsoring them. We will say no forever, find another environment if you are a pastor, I don’t know if he is a man of religion.”
He continued: “A man of religion will speak the biblical truth. 1st 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, double G.O.D they spell in reverse.”
He said the feisty preacher who was arrested but cleared last week and has since left the country was “not part of us” and added:
“We say no, forever no!” to the preacher’s activism.
He added: “A man of religion, we would hope would preach biblical peace.”
Recent reports indicate that plainclothes men visited Mawarire’s home and church in Harare, claiming they were looking for him.
There have been claims of unidentified men trying to abduct the preacher who has gained instant fame for his brave confrontation of the Mugabe regime.
A columnist believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, on Saturday said government could adopt measures to ban the “abuse” of the national flag.
However, Alex Magaisa, a law professor based in the UK, said banning draping the flag by protesters following Mawarire would be a violation of citizens’ freedom of expression.