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Zimbabwe: Supporters fume after protest pastor leaves for US
August 22, 2016 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwean protest pastor Evan Mawarire

Zimbabwean protest pastor Evan Mawarire

HARARE, Zimbabwe — From a symbol of resistance and hope, a pastor who galvanized thousands of Zimbabweans into anti-government action has become a subject of derision, fighting accusations of being a coward.

Evan Mawarire became an instant hero after he organized this southern African country’s biggest shutdown protest in nearly a decade through a social media campaign last month. His #ThisFlag campaign against economic stagnation and corruption concerns earned him criticism from the country’s longtime president, 92-year-old Robert Mugabe.

Then Mawarire left for neighboring South Africa, citing safety. Now he is in the United States and promises to lead anti-government protests outside an annual United Nations gathering of heads of state next month.

Many of his supporters have been fuming on social media. Some are defending the 39-year-old’s decision to leave. Others appear heartbroken.

They vent their anger, confusion and feelings of betrayal, not least because one of Mawarire’s most popular hashtag campaigns in the local Shona language was #Hatichatya, or “we are no longer afraid.”

“I wonder how your 11-year-old fan who penned a heartfelt letter would feel when she realises you left,” one supporter, Stewart Muchapera, wrote on Facebook, questioning whether the #ThisFlag movement wasn’t a farce.

“Come on man come back home and finish what u started,” said Isiah Rondiwa on Facebook.

Others have defended Mawarire. “Ask not what Evan can do for u but what u can also do,” Paul Nyikaz wrote.

In one of his social media posts, Mawarire seemed to take a dig at his critics.

“You are so quick to tell me to come back home but you can’t tell Bob to go away,” he said, using Mugabe’s nickname. Mawarire later apologized for the statement, promising to grow the protest movement by adding youth and student wings.

“The public anger is understandable in that the youth thought they had found a leader in Mawarire. They had found their voice, now they feel deserted,” said Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer and chairman of the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

“But then, he is more useful alive than dead, plus the movement has already taken root,” said Shumba, who fled Zimbabwe in 2003 alleging torture by state security agents.

In an Aug. 11 video announcing his United States visit, Mawarire said: “I am going to the U.S. to meet some citizens and take time out to consider about my next move.” He has been speaking at events in the U.S. and meeting Zimbabweans.

He also promotes daily protests in New York for Zimbabweans in mid-September, promising the biggest demonstration yet outside Zimbabwe during the annual U.N. General Assembly’s general debate.

Frustrations over a rapidly deteriorating economy have been boiling over in Zimbabwe, the once prosperous but now economically struggling former British colony. Mugabe has been in power since 1980, but even some of his core loyalists started to turn on him in recent weeks as protests grew.

Shumba said Mawarire’s campaign has been instrumental in emboldening a young generation disenchanted with life but too afraid to speak out.

Mawarire’s first #ThisFlag video was posted in April. He ranted about how the Zimbabwe flag’s colors have lost significance because of alleged political mismanagement. The video attracted over 120,000 views on the day it was posted.

The campaign then took on a life of its own. Other people now post videos of themselves wrapped in the flag and venting about their everyday problems.

In recent weeks, young activists have used social media to organize daily protests, prompting military commanders and cabinet ministers to describe them as “cyber terrorists.”

They also have accused Mawarire of being supported by the West and now point to his move overseas as proof.

Information minister Christopher Mushohwe told reporters this week that “Mawarire has since shown his true colors and is now where he truly belongs in the arms of his handlers.”

*AP/Washington Post

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Zimbabwe’s renewable Energy Association formed
August 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

By  Wallace Mawire

download (2)As Zimbabwe aims to move with the rest of the world in adopting
renewable and clean energy solutions, a new association, the Renewable
Energy Association of Zimbabwe (REAZ) has been formed to advance
alternative and clean energy solutions for energy deprived
communities.
According to Simba Sibanda, REAZ Inaugural Secretary, the association
aims to be a reputable umbrella association, supporting and enabling
the sustainable growth of the renewable energy sector throughout
Zimbabwe and beyond.

“Our mission is to promote all forms of renewable energy technologies
into the mainstream of the Zimbabwean economy and lifestyle by
emphasizing the need for quality and best practice throughout the
sector in a sustainable manner for the benefit of members, consumers
and other stakeholders,” Sibanda said.
The objectives of the association are also to provide a platform for
the promotion and development of renewable energy technologies in
Zimbabwe, establish working relationships with similar national and
international organizations for the purposes of enhancing the
objectives of  the association, facilitating information dissemination
for the benefit of the public and the membership, formulating
proposals for improvements in the renewable energy sector and making
recommendations to the responsible authorities.
Other initatives will include participating in resource mobilization
on behalf of stakeholders of renewable energy projects, promoting
technology transfer,promoting sound business practices and
standardization of products within the sector and promoting the local
manufacture of renewable energy products and enterprise development.
In trying to promote renewable and clean energy solutions, Zimbabwe
has adopted global initiatives like the Power for All campaign which
seeks to promote distributed renewable
energy (DRE) as the key to achieving universal energy access faster,
cheaper and in a more sustainable manner.
The campaign provides platform to share information, and provides
tools to accelerate the
growth of the DRE market.
According to a document released by Zimbabwe’s Energy Regional
Organisation (ZERO), energy is central to sustainable development and
is an enabler to health, education, agriculture and improving the
nation’s economy at large.
The “Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)” initiative, launched in
2010 by the UN Secretary General, established three ambitious global
objectives to be accomplished by 2030:

-to ensure universal access to modern energy services,
-to double the global rate of improvement in global energy efficiency, and
-to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The initiative envisions a multi-stakeholder approach as being
critical to its success, with government, the private sector, and
civil society as its three ‘pillars’.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries which opted in implementing the
SE4ALL Initiative- embracing the global policy and integrate it into
local policies. A key pathway associated with opting in is that the
country has to carry out country action plans. Of the four ‘Country
Action’, Zimbabwe is reported to have  completed the first three.

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Zimbabwe: How long can Mugabe survive without the war veterans?
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

The war veterans and Emmerson Mnangagwa have been key pillars underpinning Mugabe’s 36-year-long rule. Without them, it could quickly disintegrate beyond repair

By *

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe during the SADC Summit.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe during the SADC Summit.

Last week, Zimbabwe’s war veterans’ association broke its silence as the group released a statement accusing President Robert Mugabe of “dictatorial tendencies” and “bankrupt leadership”.

For decades, the war veterans have been indispensable allies of Mugabe and have been central to the manner and maintenance of his 36-year-long rule. So it was a momentous moment when elements within the association declared:

“We are dismayed by the president’s tendency to indulge, in his usual vitriol against perceived enemies, including peaceful protesters, as well as war veterans, when the economy is on its knees.”

This kind of defiance is unprecedented and the government responded in similarly strong fashion, albeit after a few days hesitation. This Saturday, Zimbabwe’s defence ministercalled the move “treasonous” and tried to discredit the statement as the work of infiltrators, saying: “There is no war veteran who would be so disparaging about the president”.

Although it seems that the government is just trying to delegitimise the war veteran association’s statement, which seems to have clear backing from several people, Mugabe will hope that his defence minister is correct – because if he truly has lost the support of the war veterans, this could well be the beginning of a swift end.

Friends forever?

President Mugabe owes a lot to the war veterans, starting with his very ascendancy to the leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF. During the war for independence, Mugabe was an initially a relatively minor figure in the ZANU rebel movement’s leadership, until in 1975 when support from guerrilla fighters elevated him to the head of the militant ZANU faction. The close bond between Mugabe and his allies was forged, with long-running consequences.

Since Zimbabwe’s independence, the war veterans have been richly rewarded. They have been given senior positions in security, government and parastatals. Through their military positions, they have been the greatest recipients of state patronage, including in the lucrative diamond industry. And in 2014, Mugabe even created a new ministry just to cater for their welfare.

The veterans’ apparent decision to turn against their long-standing patron could be connected to the “unbridled corruption and downright mismanagement of the economy” that they note in the communiqué. And it could be related to the government’s treatment of “peaceful protesters” that they denounce.

But given the fact that the war veterans have been the main beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s economic patronage system for decades and that they have – up to now – played a central role in repressing peaceful opposition to Mugabe’s rule, the likelihood is that there are other motivations at play.

At 92 years old, Mugabe is reaching the end of his rule, and despite his vow to run in the 2018 elections and beyond, there has been plenty talk of who will succeed him. First Lady Grace Mugabe has made clear indications that she hopes to be in the running to take over the leadership of ZANU-PF and has the support of certain factions within the party. But the war veterans are much more closely linked to her main rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa (aka The Crocodile).

Enter The Crocodile

Mnangagwa, who currently serves as vice-president, arguably has an even longer and stronger relationship with the war veterans than Mugabe. He played a key role in the war for liberation in the 1960s and 1970s. And since independence, he has used his various different ministerial positions overseeing state security, defence and home affairs, to cement his ties with powerful former fighters.

As a result, the war veterans see him as the person who – more than anyone else in ZANU-PF – can cater for their interests in a post-Mugabe era. And they possibly want Mnangagwa to take over as soon as possible in order to start preparing for the 2018 elections. Rather than a sense of solidarity with the popular #ThisFlag protests, figures within the group are more likely to be opportunistically picking this moment of widespread discontentment with the status quo to ratchet up pressure against Mugabe.

The clearest indication of this was of course the recent statement, which broke a taboo by directly criticising and confronting the government. Meanwhile, they also endorsed a civil society stay away that the government regarded as illegal.

However, there may be other prongs to the strategy also being carried out in tandem. For instance, war veterans hold many of the most powerful positions within the security sector – such as in the police, army and intelligence – and it is notable that the president has issued warnings on two occasions recently against the security sector interfering in succession politics.

Furthermore, although Mnangagwa cannot speak out against his boss directly, he has directly contradicted the president a few times in the past few months, such as regarding the government’s flagship policies on indigenisation and land policy. He has also publicly called for warmer ties with international financial institutions and Europe at a time Mugabe was turning up his anti-Western rhetoric saying Zimbabwe does not need the “evil West”.

Beyond repair?

Since the war of liberation, Mugabe has enjoyed a close symbiotic relationship with Mnangagwa and the guerrilla fighters that became the war veterans.

In return for powerful positions and patronage, the war veterans have legitimised Mugabe’s rhetoric and politics, helped crush dissent, and been central in mobilising voters in electoral campaigns. Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has been Mugabe’s ruthless enforcer since 1980 as he has clamped down any potential challengers, overseeing thousands of deaths in the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s and scores of deaths in 2008 election violence.

The support of the war veterans and Mnangagwa have thus been indispensable pillars underpinning Mugabe’s system of rule. If the recent statement withdrawing support for him reflects the feelings of the larger group, it would not be an exaggeration to see this as the moment Mugabe’s reign began to disintegrate beyond repair.

*African Arguments.Simukai Tinhu is a political analyst based in London and Harare

 

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Governance, Corruption & Democratic Development Questions will guide Clinton’s African Policy-Snr Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.

Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry.com on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.

The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.

“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies.  How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,”  Sullivan said.

In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa  as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.

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Zimbabwe threatens “traitorous” war veterans after Mugabe attack
July 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

By MacDonald Dzirutwe*

Zimbabwean war veterans sing revolutionary songs at a meeting at the ruling Zanu-PF.Reuters

Zimbabwean war veterans sing revolutionary songs at a meeting at the ruling Zanu-PF.Reuters

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s government denounced leading independence war veterans as traitors on Saturday for an unprecedented attack on ageing President Robert Mugabe and vowed to identify its unnamed authors and put them on trial.

Veterans who fought against white minority rule in the former British colony turned on their long-time ally and commander on Thursday, calling him a dictator in a jolting rebuke highlighting political manoeuvring over his succession and mounting anger over economic woes.

Mugabe abruptly cancelled a hastily arranged news conference on Friday evening meant to respond to the veterans.

State-owned newspapers reflected the power struggle on Saturday with a highly unusual 12-page supplement praising his wife Grace on her 51st birthday. War veterans have accused her of having too much influence over her 92-year-old husband.

“Government … dismisses the said traitorous so-called communique, which is treasonable in the constitutional democracy that Zimbabwe is,” Retired Brigadier-General Asher Tapfumaneyi, the most senior civil servant in the veterans ministry, said in a statement on Saturday.

“Multi-agency investigations are underway to establish its origins, authorship, ownership and purpose,” he said, adding the government would “bring all associated with it to justice”.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) issued its allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement by Mugabe in its own name, without individual signatures, after a seven-hour leadership meeting.

Tapfumaneyi expressed dismay at the statement and said the government was working to address most of their grievances by April 2017, a year before the next presidential election. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.

“Any agitation or activism outside this very constructive process in the manner of this purported communique would therefore be misguided, treacherous and outright counterproductive,” he said, adding that some former fighters were distancing themselves from the ZNLWVA statement.

GUSHING PRAISE

As Mugabe shows signs of frailty, senior members of the ruling ZANU-PF party are positioning themselves for the post-Mugabe era. Two factions have emerged, one linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and one to Mugabe’s wife.

Veterans want Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, but the president warned them last month against trying to influence the choice.

The newspaper supplements hailing Grace Mugabe, which were the first in Zimbabwean state media for anyone’s birthday but the president’s, ran gushing messages of praise from government ministries, including defence, and loss-making state companies.

“Dr Grace Mugabe: A woman who conquered Africa,” read a headline in the Herald newspaper, reflecting the growing political influence of the First Lady since her appointment to the top leadership of ZANU-PF in 2014.

“A loving mother, compassionate philanthropist, astute businesswoman, perceptive politician, remarkable patriot,” the state-owned daily wrote.

The political infighting has been exacerbated by an economic crisis, widely blamed on mismanagement and, more recently, the effects of a scorching drought in the region.

Public anger over inflation, unemployment and other hardships has poured out into the streets in a nation-wide protest movement.

“(Mugabe’s) leadership has presided over unbridled corruption and downright mismanagement of the economy, leading to national economic ruin for which the effects are now felt throughout the land,” the ZNLWVA statement said.

“The President and his cohorts … have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle,” it said.

*Reuters/Yahoo

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Zimbabwe Leader’s Loyalists Make Surprise Break With Mugabe
July 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

By FARAI MUTSAKA*

Mugabe+imageVeterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war made a significant break with President Robert Mugabe for the first time Thursday, calling him dictatorial, manipulative and egocentric.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association has been a pillar of support for the 92-year-old leader for decades, but it released a statement criticizing the man it had long been quick to defend. The veterans are known for unleashing violence on those opposing the government.

The surprise revolt by Mugabe’s aging corps of loyalists comes after nationwide anti-government protests organized via social media. Many in Zimbabwe are frustrated by a rapidly deteriorating economy, a currency crisis and alleged corruption.

“We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle,” the statement said after dozens of veterans’ representatives from around the country met Thursday, changing anti-government slogans.

The group said it would no longer support Mugabe’s political campaigns, accusing him of abandoning the veterans for the youth league of the ruling party ZANU-PF.

The veterans’ group, whose members are in their 60s and older, blamed the southern African country’s economic crisis on “bankrupt leadership,” and it accused Mugabe of corruption: “This rot needs to be uprooted, and right now.”

There was no immediate comment from the government. Mugabe has repeatedly said he plans to run again in 2018 and rule until he dies.

Mugabe+imageThursday’s announcement “delegitimizes Mugabe in a big way, not least because he is always quick to flaunt his war credentials and revels in his title as patron of the war veterans association,” said political analyst Gabriel Shumba, chairman of the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. “The youths may provide him with the muscle he needs right now, but they don’t command any meaningful political stock.”

Mugabe, who has been in power for 36 years, has recently turned toward the youth league for political support, including two rallies attended by tens of thousands of people.

Earlier this week, the world’s oldest head of state responded to the recent anti-government protests, telling critics to leave Zimbabwe if they are unhappy with conditions at home.

The veterans’ group indicated it has had enough of such talk from the president.

“We are dismayed by the president’s tendency to indulge, in his usual vitriol against perceived enemies, including peaceful protesters, as well as war veterans, when the economy is on its knees,” their statement said. “He has a lot to answer for the serious plight of the national economy.”

Mugabe came to power when Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, won independence from white rule in 1980. The guerrilla war that led to independence forged close ties among the fighters. The veterans were also at the forefront of Mugabe’s land reform program that saw thousands of white farmers violently evicted to make way for landless blacks.

Mugabe’s rule began with widespread optimism, but that faded over the years amid economic hardship and contentious relations with the West. Mugabe has blamed the recent woes on Western sanctions.

Tensions emerged earlier this year between the veterans and Mugabe, who warned them to stay out of politics as talk about who might succeed him intensified. Some veterans have backed the candidacy of a former vice president, Joice Mujuru.

In February, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of veterans who were demonstrating against what they described as criticism by Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

“Regrettably, the general citizenry has previously been subjected to this inhuman and degrading treatment without a word of disapproval from us,” the veterans’ statement said of the incident. “That time has passed. We wish to categorically condemn the brutal suppression of the freedom of expression, whether exercised by ourselves or by anyone else.”

View the letter from the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association here:

*Source AP/ABC

 

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Zimbabwe finance minister says sanctions to blame for cash crunch
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

President Robert Mugabe is facing rare popular protests after delayed payments of wages to the army and civil service.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa

KIGALI, July 17 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s finance minister blamed international sanctions on Sunday for a cash crunch that has forced the government to delay wages to soldiers and civil servants as President Robert Mugabe faces rare popular protests.

Western countries imposed sanctions in 2001 on Mugabe’s government over allegations of vote-rigging and human rights abuses, which he rejects, while lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have frozen financial aid since Harare defaulted in 1999.

Zimbabwe failed to pay the army on time for the second straight month, military sources said on Friday, and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the sanctions were hurting the government’s ability to meet its obligations.

“Sanctions crippled our capacity to own our international obligations (debt payment),” Chinamasa told Reuters when asked about the wage-payment delays during an African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda. He did not say specifically which international obligations had been affected.

“Our industry sector collapsed, the formal corporate structure collapsed and it translated itself into informal sector. So we have now a situation where revenue collection from the informal sector is not easy. We need to come up with new policies,” he added.

Anger is rising in Zimbabwe over high unemployment, corruption in government and shortages of money, which has seen people spending hours in bank queues to withdraw their money.

Without balance of payment support and foreign credit, the government is seeking to clear $1.8 billion arrears to the IMF, African Development Bank and World Bank in a bid to unlock new funding.

The IMF said on Thursday it was still far from a financial programme with Mugabe’s government, which would need to resolve issues of governance, accountability, transparency and carry out economic reforms before receiving any cash.

*Reuters

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FIRST AFRICAN PASSPORTS GO TO PRESIDENTS OF RWANDA AND CHAD
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

The African Union wants to roll out the continental passport to millions of Africans.

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Who is the preacher behind anti-Mugabe protests?Zimbabwe’s pastor ‘hero’: #ThisFlag preacher
July 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

_90404880_2016-07-14-photo-00000332A Zimbabwean pastor is being hailed by many of his countrymen as a hero on social media for calling for an end to the country’s economic woes.

With no known political credentials but with a toxic mix of religion and patriotism, Evan Mawarire seems to have won over Zimbabweans who are sick of politicians from all political parties.

In the wake of the pastor’s appearance in court this week, when a magistrate threw out charges by the state prosecutor that he was trying to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, one Zimbabwean in the UK spent hours on Photoshop to create an image of Mr Mawarire as superhero “Captain Zimbabwe”.

“I did it with the younger generation of Zimbabwe in mind who might not understand what the struggle in Zimbabwe is about,” Tawada Sibotshiwe told the BBC after sharing the picture on Twitter.

“I did it so they can visualise the man who has inspired Zimbabweans to seek dialogue with their government in a peaceful manner.”

Child president

The pastor has galvanised people outside and inside Zimbabwe, where the governing elite is viewed by some as ruining a once-thriving economy and where the opposition is fractured and ineffectual.

Through his social media movement, which uses the hashtag #ThisFlag, he has been backing a stay-away campaign this month to protest about perceived corruption and economic mismanagement

So does the Baptist preacher have any political credentials?

He told the BBC’s Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, that his first brush with politics was as a child after a naughty spell at school in the mid-1990s.

Evan Mawarire left court still wearing his flag

Evan Mawarire left court still wearing his flag

After getting bad grades one term he was moved to another school where he thrived – so much that he was nominated as a child parliamentarian to represent Harare.

The child parliament mirrors Zimbabwe’s real legislative chamber with each constituency having a representative on the body.

Mr Mawarire was then made child president and met the real president.

He described his first encounter with Mr Mugabe as full of “respect and admiration”.

“It’s 23 years now since I met him. He was my hero then,” the 39-year-old told Zimbabwe Independent.

“Today I look back and say: ‘What changed?’ Either I grew up or he messed up big time for sure.”

‘Green is for crops’

After leaving school, he qualified as an auto electrician before starting his church, getting married and having two daughters.

His social media fame came after he spontaneously posted a video online, expressing his frustration at the state of the nation.

Mr Mawarire urges Zimbabweans to wear their flag in protest

Mr Mawarire urges Zimbabweans to wear their flag in protest

He told the Daily Maverick that he filmed the unscripted speech in April in a moment of clarity after a day of struggling to work out how to pay his children’s school fees – most of his income comes from his bookings as a master of ceremonies.

“I was very disappointed. I remember looking at this flag [in my office]. I thought if I was in another country I could not have failed to have what I need,” he told the Zimbabwe Independent.

The video that went viral started with the pastor saying: “I’m not a politician; I’m not an activist… just a citizen.”

Wrapped in the stripped Zimbabwean flag, he then pointed out what each of the flag’s colours was supposed to represent.

“They tell me that the green is for the vegetation and for the crops. I don’t see any crops in my country,” he said, leaning over to fit in the frame of the phone camera while emotive music played the background.

After listing all the ways the flag had let him down, he turned to each colour again stating how it should be an inspiration.

Peaceful protests

The green “is the power of being able to push through soil, push past limitations and flourish and grow”, he said.

He ended by promising to stop standing on the sidelines and start fighting for his country.

_90368187_63424a59-053d-42a5-867b-12ba0117d2f1He has gone on to produce many videos posted to Facebook and Twitter. An inspiring orator, he delivers one sentence in English and then repeats it in Shona, Zimbabwe’s most spoken language.

But in all his messages urging people to refuse to pay bribes and to stand up for their rights, he stipulates that all protest must be peaceful.

“Our protest – non-violent, non-inciting, stay-at-home – is the best because it is within the confines of the law,” he told the BBC.

Shutdown activists’ five demands:

  1. Pay civil servants on time
  2. Reduce roadblocks and stop officers harassing people for cash
  3. President Robert Mugabe should fire and prosecute corrupt officials
  4. Plans to introduce bond notes to ease a cash shortage should be abandoned
  5. Remove a recent ban on imported goods.

What is behind the protests?


The flag and the bible are his symbols – and the only two things he carried with him when turned himself in for questioning before his arrest on Wednesday.

At his hearing a day later – with crowds of supporters, many draped in the national flag, spilling out of the court, singing and praying for him outside – the case was dismissed.

Prosecutors first charged him with inciting public violence and then at the last minute added subversion, which his lawyers successfully argued would deny him a fair trial.

His critics complain that the preacher does not speak for everyone and there has been no proof of how widespread his support is.

“A Facebook wall or Twitter feed does not equate to a polling booth granting him an electoral mandate,” writes Bernard Bwoni in the state newspaper The Herald.

Mr Mawarire argues that it his religion that has given him the courage to continue, despite attempted abductions and threats, including one to strangle him with a flag.

“I go back to the bible,” he told the Zimbabwe Independent.

“It says unless the watchman watches with God, he will watch in vain. The God factor is driving me.”

*BBC

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Britain’s New Foreign Secretary Says British Colonialism In Africa Wasn’t So Bad
July 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY JUSTIN SALHANI*

In this Thursday, July 12, 2012 file photo, the mayor of London Boris Johnson poses for the media with a plate of food in the athletes' dining hall during a media opportunity at the Olympic and Paralympic athlete's village in London.

In this Thursday, July 12, 2012 file photo, the mayor of London Boris Johnson poses for the media with a plate of food in the athletes’ dining hall during a media opportunity at the Olympic and Paralympic athlete’s village in London.

Following the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, new PM Theresa May named her Cabinet Wednesday. One of the most notable names on the list was pro-Brexiter and former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was appointed Foreign Secretary.

Critics of Johnson’s appointment have already pointed out his numerous gaffes and propensity for offending foreign leaders. Many media outlets published articles listing all the various countries that Johnson has offended during his reign as mayor.

In April, Johnson said President Barack Obama might have an ancestral dislike of Britain. Johnson didn’t attribute this to Obama’s feelings over U.S. independence in 1776, but to his Kenyan heritage.

“Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender,” Johnson wrote in the Sun about Obama’s purported removal of a Churchill bust from the White House. Obama replaced Churchill with a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But one of the most egregious comments made by the new Foreign Secretary relates to England’s colonial history in Africa.

In a 2002 commentary in the Spectator, Johnson argued that “Africa is a mess” (the entire continent of course) — and it has nothing to do with colonialism.

“The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more,” he wrote. “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

Not only does Johnson argue that Britain is completely faultless for the current conflicts on the continent, but he also drops other pearls of wisdom like that the British are not guilty of slavery, without the British planting of cash crops “the natives” would still be eating bananas, and the best way to spur the area’s economy would be to cater to British tourists.

As the BBC has reported, “during the last 20 years of the 19th century, Britain occupied or annexed Egypt, the Sudan, British East Africa (Kenya and Uganda), British Somaliland, Southern and Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe and Zambia), Bechuanaland (Botswana), Orange Free State and the Transvaal (South Africa), Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, British Gold Coast (Ghana) and Nyasaland (Malawi). These countries accounted for more than 30% of Africa’s population.”

Britain left behind many mass graves and destroyed records of all the brutality it had incurred at the hands of the African people. In Kenya alone, “it is clear that tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of Kikuyu died in the [detainment] camps,” the Guardian reported.

Johnson certainly isn’t the first politician to blatantly ignore the history of imperialism, but that doesn’t make his comments, and his appointment as Foreign Secretary, any less astounding.

*Source TP

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Zimbabwe court throws out case against anti-Mugabe pastor
July 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

By MacDonald Dzirutwe*

Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire (2nd R), who organized a 'stay at home' anti-government protest last week, arrives at the Harare Central Police station in Zimbabwe, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire (2nd R), who organized a ‘stay at home’ anti-government protest last week, arrives at the Harare Central Police station in Zimbabwe, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) – A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday dismissed charges against a religious leader accused of trying to overthrow the government through an internet campaign that inspired rare protests against President Robert Mugabe.

Pastor Evan Mawarire appeared in a packed Harare courtroom draped in the Zimbabwean flag after spending the night in police cells as officers searched his house, church and office.

Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe said prosecutors presented different charges from those read out to Mawarire when he was arrested.

“It’s my finding that the National Prosecuting Authority cannot charge the accused for the first time in court without charges being read out to him,” Chikwekwe told the court.

Mawarire’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo said his client initially faced charges of inciting violence before prosecutors changed the charge to attempting to overthrow the government, which carries up to 20 years in jail in found guilty.

Hundreds of Mawarire’s supporters gathered outside the court, waving the national flag and singing protest songs, as anti-riot police kept a watchful eye.

“We are here in solidarity with a man of the cloth who is standing against a system that has impoverished the citizens of this nation,” Harare resident Pastor Ellard said.

Though Mawarire had called for further “stay at home” protests on Wednesday, queues built up as normal at bus and taxi ranks to ferry people to work, while most businesses were open.

Teachers reported for duty at most public schools, which are conducting mid-year examinations, while nurses and doctors were at work at state-run hospitals.

Mawarire last month posted a video online, that has since gone viral, venting his anger about deteriorating social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe and urging citizens to hold government to account.

“I am angered by the poverty and day to day struggles. The economy is not working and there are no jobs,” Zimbabwean activist Maureen Kademaunga told Reuters.

The preacher’s social media movement has rattled 92-year-old Mugabe’s administration, leading to accusations by the state against Mawarire of inciting public violence.

Anger is rising in Zimbabwe over high unemployment, corruption in government and shortages of money, which has seen people spending hours in bank queues to withdraw their money.

Zimbabwe’s government warned protesters on Tuesday they would face the “full wrath of the law” if they heeded Mawarire’s call, after his #ThisFlag movement organized the biggest anti-government demonstrations in a decade last week.

After his arrest, Mawarire supporters released a pre-recorded video urging Zimbabweans to stage another stay-away protest on Wednesday.

Amnesty International said Mawarire’s arrest was a calculated plan by Zimbabwean authorities to intimidate activists ahead of Wednesday’s protests.

“Instead of suppressing dissenting voices, Zimbabwean authorities should be listening to protesters like Evan Mawarire,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for southern Africa.

*Reuters/Yahoo

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Zimbabwe pastor Evan Mawarire ‘charged with inciting violence’
July 13, 2016 | 0 Comments
Evan Mawarire has been posting videos asking people "to be bold" and protest

Evan Mawarire has been posting videos asking people “to be bold” and protest

A Zimbabwean pastor leading a campaign against the government’s handling of the economy has reportedly been charged with inciting public violence.

His own #ThisFlag Twitter campaign feed and the state-run Herald paper tweeted that Evan Mawarire was also being charged with disturbing the peace.

Activists organised a “stay-at-home” protest last Wednesday and planned similar shutdowns this week.

It has mostly been organised on social media and WhatsApp using #ThisFlag.

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has worsened recently, leading to a chronic cash shortage and delays paying civil servants.

Pastor Mawarire was summoned for questioning by police ahead of a two-day “stay-at-home” protest called for Wednesday and Thursday.

Several hours after he reported to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Tuesday morning, the #ThisFlag Twitter account posted: “Pastor Evan Mawarire is being charged with section 36 for inciting public violence and disturbing peace.”

It included a video in which the preacher says: “You are watching this video because I have either been arrested or have been abducted. It’s a video we had pre-recorded for a day like this one.”

He ends his message saying that he hopes the shutdowns have been successful.

“Hold this government to account. Never let them get away with anything,” he says.

“Remember this flag is our flag, no-one else loves Zimbabwe more than a Zimbabwean.”

Import ban anger

According to Zimbabwe’s private Newsday newspaper, the pastor turned up at the central police station in the capital, Harare, with a bible and a Zimbabwean flag but without his mobile phone, which is what sources at the station say the CID wants access to.

The authorities have been trying to trace who has been sending out messages about the national shutdown, as several activist groups have been involved.

Last Wednesday’s stay away led to a complete shutdown of schools, businesses and shops across the country.

It was the biggest strike action since 2005 and public transport and some government departments, including the courts, also ceased to function.

Last week, taxi drivers complaining about police extortion also clashed with the security forces in parts of Harare.

Civil servants who had not received their June salaries were paid in the wake of the strike.

These have to be paid in foreign currency as Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 in order to stem runaway inflation.

There is also anger at a government ban on importing many goods which has been implemented in order to save scarce foreign currency.

But with unemployment at more than 90%, many Zimbabweans rely on cross-border trading to make a living.

*BBC

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