Pastor Evan Mawarire of the #ThisFlag movement, will address Zimbabwe’s deepening socio-economic and political crises at a symposium in Washington, DC on August 17.
Mawarire was invited by the Atlantic Council think-tank to “discuss the significance of the campaign and next steps toward securing a peaceful and prosperous future” for Zimbabwe.
The charismatic and influential cleric has lately become a target of President Robert Mugabe, who accuses him of being an agent of Western countries to stir dissonance in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has blamed particularly France, the U.S. for sponsoring Mawarire to push a regime-change agenda, charges the two have categorically dismissed.
Mawarire has been based in South Africa for the past two weeks or so following his release from jail after a magistrate dismissed treason charges against him.
He says his safety in currently compromised in Zimbabwe; but he has vowed to return.
Still, Mr. Mawarire continues to rally Zimbabweans on social media to dial up protests against Mr. Mugabe’s government for failing to fix the economy and fight endemic graft.
His audacity has put him directly on collision course with the 92-year-old president – the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence 36 years ago.
“The Mawarires; I don’t even know him and those who believe in that way of living in our country are not part of us in thinking as we try to live together,” Mugabe said recently.
“If they don’t like to live with us let them go to those who are sponsoring them, fine. You can’t urge people to adopt violence violent demonstrations as the way of life or solving grievances, we will say no, forever no.”
Political analyst Nhlanhla Dube commented that while Mawarire’s Washington visit will sure rile Mr. Mugabe and his government, the issues that the cleric is raising are legitimate.