#ThisFlag pastor, Evan Mawarire, is “seriously” unsettled by President Robert’s public accusation at a State funeral on Tuesday that the preacher was fomenting anti-government violence.
Mugabe, speaking at the burial of Charles Utete, a former top public technocrat, at the Heroes Acre in Harare, claimed Mawarire was being sponsored by western forces to cause violence in Zimbabwe.
The president, 92, vowed that his government would never allow citizen protests led by the clergy to continue and said Mawarire must leave the country.
“The Mawarire’s … I don’t even know him, and those who believe in that way of living, well, are not part of us in thinking, they are not part of us as we try to live together. If they don’t want to live with us they should go to those countries that are sponsoring them.
“You can’t urge people to adopt violence, violent demonstrations as the way of life or a way of solving grievances, no…We will say no, forever no. Find another environment if you are a pastor. I don’t know if he is a man of religion,” said Mugabe.
Mawarire travelled to South Africa immediately after being cleared of a treason charge by the courts last week, insisting the trip would help him cool off and he would return soon.
However, he told South African media that Mugabe’s statements had shocked him.
“To hear a head of state talk of something that is an untruth is bad. So this has become a very serious situation for me, and I fear it. I am worried,” he said.
“The main reason I came here was just to get away from it all, to calm down, relax, clear my head and think clearly about the way forward,” he added.
There were reports last week of unidentified men making several visits to his home and church in Harare claiming they were looking for him.
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It is widely believed that the Mugabe establishment, showing signs of panicking after Mawarire contributed to the mobilisation of citizen activists who recently took to the streets against corruption and bad governance, could arrest the pastor upon his return. Nehanda Radio