Mawarire meets US govt over ‘deteriorating’ rights situation in Zimbabwe
Exiled Zanu-PF fierce critic and evangelical pastor Evan Mawarire this week shared notes with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the ‘deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe’.
Mawarire the director of education at the Renew Democracy Initiative told Blinken about the “draconian laws” being enacted in the country including the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill that seeks to limit the work of non-governmental organizations.
The pro-democracy activist further described the incarceration of opposition MP Job Sikhala as persecution. The Zengeza West legislator who is charged with incitement to commit public violence has spent more than 100 days together with fellow MP Godfrey Sithole and 14 other activists.
Writing about his meeting with Blinken, Mawarire said: “Met with US Sec of State Secretary Blinken today. Highlighted suppression of freedom in Zimbabwe.
“Discussed draconian laws-PVO and Patriotic bill, arrest of Job Sikhala and others, abuse of opposition, journalists like Hopewell Chin’ono and others. Spoke about my work at Renew Democracy Initiative more to follow.”
Blinken acknowledged and appreciated the information shared by Mawarire about the situation in Zimbabwe.
“Where freedom of expression is respected, societies flourish. Appreciated the opportunity to hear from journalists and civil society at the Foreign Press Centre today where I thanked them for their vital work supporting democracy and human rights,” he said.
Mawarire became famous in 2016 after leading protests, which became known as #ThisFlag Protest Movement. The revolts led to the closure of businesses, shops and schools. Public transport and some government departments and courts stopped working.
The demonstrations were aimed at resisting late former President Robert Mugabe’s economic and political mismanagement which had caused an avalanche of poverty in the country.
The shutdown which led to his arrest, was also partly sparked by the use of tear gas and water cannon by security forces to disperse protests outside Harare after police officers were accused of using roadblocks to extort money from motorists.
Mawarire’s famous saying during the time implied that Mugabe was failing to listen to citizens.
“We are pushing for a stay-away because there is nothing else we can do for the government to listen to us,” Mawarire said in the video that sparked massive protests across the country.
He was arrested and charged with inciting public violence. He was later released on bail.
Under the current regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mawarire was arrested in January 2019 after leading a protest against government decision to hike up gas prices, giving the impoverished Zimbabwe the most expensive gasoline in the world.