Harare, Zimbabwe, Jul 22, 2016 / 15:54 pm
In Zimbabwe, there are protests against the government and officials’ harsh treatment of a Christian pastor whose video about his frustration went viral on the internet. Now, Christian leaders in the country have called for an end to harassment of clergy and for a just response to other grievances.
“We call upon our government to listen to the cries of citizens whose cries and sufferings are loud and clear. There is need to act justly and mercifully on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in our nation,” a group of Christian leaders said in a July 14 statement.
The Zimbabwe Catholic bishops’ conference joined the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and other groups in making the statement.
The leaders voiced concern about apparent disregard for the constitution by the government and police, failure to deal with corruption, and the exclusion of citizens from determining their destiny. Intra-party conflicts are distracting the government from dealing with real economic and social issues.
They voiced concern about the harassment and arrests of religious leaders, including Pastor Mawarire, and the intimidation of other pastors “speaking on behalf of powerless people.”
“These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed,” they said.
In May, the Baptist pastor Evan Mawarire launched the “#ThisFlag” social media movement to voice frustration about the state of Zimbabwe. His campaign spread through Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
The pastor’s videos have stressed non-violence, though some younger activists in a movement called Tajamuka are less moderate, BBC News reports.