#ThisFlag Evan Mawarire dwarfs opposition politicians
By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
#ThisFlag preacher Evan Mawarire’s influence and political stature is rising fast and dwarfing that of prominent opposition leaders as more Zimbabweans recognise his role in confronting the unpopular regime of President Robert Mugabe.
Mawarire has earned the respect of the church, with Shingi Munyeza, the president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) being the latest to urge Zimbabweans to rally behind him, saying he represents millions of long suffering citizens.
“The truth is his voice is not a loner’s voice in the wilderness, it is a voice representing the many subdued voices of the majority of Zimbabweans in cities, townships, villages, growth points, plantations, farms, and from the many sons and daughters of this nation scattered in the Diaspora..
“It is a voice inspired by a godly passion to see justice; it is specifically a perspective of the church expressing the feelings of the nation at large. But for how long shall it remain a single voice? How long shall we enjoy these ‘successes’ while we are hiding behind it in passive solidarity?” wrote Munyeza on social media on Wednesday.
His statements coincided with the trial and subsequent release of Mawarire, who has been sharing brave messages of resistance against the Mugabe government on social media and is credited for contributing to the successful mobilisation of Zimbabweans to protest.
Mawarire was initially charged with inciting violence but that was changed to attempting to subvert a constitutional government.
A Harare magistrate, however, quashed the charge, ruling that it was unconstitutional, and Mawarire went out of court to meet a jubilant crowd of thousands of citizens and scores of lawyers who had thronged the magistrates court to offer him solidarity.
The crowd that converged on the Rotten Row courts is arguably bigger than the ones that were seen at Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason trial in the early 2000s.
Munyeza urged the church to replicate Munyeza’s bravery.
“I believe the lone voice (of Mawarire) cannot sustain longer if the church simply obeys as any other person, but remains aloof and fails to openly embrace it so that it becomes the voice of multitudes. A lone voice can be easily silenced, but who can silence the multitudes he represents,” he said.
Mawarire has already earned the recognition and support of other prominent citizens, such Emmanuel Makandiwa, the leader of the United Family International Church (UFIC), a Pentecostal denomination that is followed by thousands of Zimbabweans.
Opposition parties that have remained largely inactive during a wave of civil disobedience against corruption, bad governance and a worsening economic crisis have also fallen over each other to offer support to Mawarire.
The State has been rattled by Mawarire’s feisty #ThisFlag campaign calling on Mugabe and his cabinet to immediately vacate office.
He was on Wednesday brought to court under heavy police presence that included water cannons as sympathetic and visibly emotional crowds swelled into the afternoon.
The crowds that descended for Mawarire’s trial compare favourably with the turnout at a recent Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) rally just a stone’s throw away from the Rotten Row courts. Nehanda Radio