Harare, ZIMBABWE — A Harare pastor, whose videos titled #thisflag urging Zimbabweans to demand their rights and have gone viral on social media, says he will continue to protest despite credible threats on his life.
The 39 year-old pastor Evan Mawarire of His Generation Church is urging all Zimbabweans to carry their flags as a symbol of patriotism and said history will judge this generation harshly if it does not fight for its rights.
Mawarire says his call is a nonviolent direct confrontation, but he says he feels his life is in danger as he is receiving mysterious calls threatening him. He also urged fellow church leaders to take a stand.
He says due to the fact that Zimbabwe is headed in the wrong direction his dreams and those of his generation have been shattered and this forced him to speak out. Pastor Mawarire admitted that he fears for his life but he has no choice as he fears that his children will blame him for allowing the situation to spiral out of control. Zimbabwe’s economy is headed south and some economist put the unemployment rate at nearly 90%.
Human rights groups allege that the government of President Robert Mugabe continues to violate human rights without regard to protections in the country’s new constitution. An expected legislative framework and new or amended laws to improve human rights in line with the constitution has yet to materialize.
Police are alleged to violate basic rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly, using old laws that are inconsistent with the new constitution. Activists and human rights defenders face police harassment. There has been no progress toward securing justice for human rights abuses and past political violence, including violence after the 2008 elections.
Mr Mugabe has denied responsibility for the country’s economic problems, saying the economy was deliberately undermined by his domestic and foreign opponents in retaliation for his land reforms.
In 2000, president Mugabe introduced new laws that gave the government greater powers to seize land without compensating from former white owners. The government took over thousands of white-owned commercial farms after backing often violent land invasions led by veterans of the country’s 1970s struggle against white rule.