Zimbabwe protest pastor: 'Now is the time'

2017-02-15 18:55
Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

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Harare - He's seen the grim squalor of Zimbabwe's top security jail - but Evan Mawarire still believes there's no better time to be a Zimbabwean.

The #ThisFlag leader has told the privately-owned Newsday paper that what he saw other prisoners going through during his recent week in cells was very similar to what ordinary Zimbabweans live every day.

"I saw a picture of Zimbabwe in the manner how prisoners live at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. I am not a free man, I am not allowed to act or speak even though I claim to be free."

"The overcrowding, the poor medical care, treatment and surrounding is true of our everyday lives," Mawarire told the newspaper.

The pastor is due back in court in Harare this Friday to face charges of trying to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government. He was arrested on Feb 1 as he returned to Zimbabwe from six months in exile in the US. 

'I'd be a fool to say I did not understand'

It was an exile that cost him the trust of many Zimbabweans who'd pinned their hopes for change on this charismatic leader who'd been brave enough to voice his frustrations on- and then off-line.

Mawarire says he understands why Zimbabweans felt betrayed. "I'd be a fool to say I did not understand," he told Newsday. He says it was because his family was "directly threatened". (He has three little girls).

But he's also keen to stress that the responsibility for bringing change to Zimbabwe 37 years after independence does not lie with him alone. The time for "superheroes" is over, he told the paper. That goes for opposition leaders too, apparently. They "need to start thinking in a different way", he was quoted as saying. 

Part of Mawarire's wide appeal lies in his ordinariness. He preached at his old - and small - church on Sunday, four days after he was released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. 

"I do not think whatever it is that we are doing will go to waste. At some point, it will pay off," Mawarire said. 

Admirable sentiments no doubt - but will Zimbabweans share his view?

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  evan mawarire  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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