CONTROVERSIAL cleric “Pastor” Evan Mawarire is an opportunist with illusions of leading Zimbabwe but his ambitions have one fatal flaw — he has lost his mojo and Zimbabweans can now see through his self-serving shenanigans.
Having successfully duped Americans into granting him and his family sanctuary under false pretences, the smooth-talking clergyman is fast realising that there is no such thing as a free lunch. He has to pay for deceiving Washington that he was leading a strong movement capable of dislodging the Zimbabwean Government hence his abrupt return to these shores after six months of self-imposed exile.
His handlers must have put pressure on the pastor to come back home and resuscitate his social media movement #ThisFlag. The outfit is virtually comatose having been consigned to the dustbin of history by Mawarire’s decision to seek asylum in the US at a time when most of his followers had gullibly swallowed his deception hook, line and sinker.
By the time some Zimbabweans woke up to the reality that the pastor was nothing more than a lowly conman, Mawarire was snuggly ensconced in the US from where he continued to upload videos with messages exhorting his followers to mount more protests against the Government. He did not even hide his cowardly stunt, telling stunned Zimbabweans that he and his family had been awarded visas and were now enjoying the cushy comforts of their hosts — much to the chagrin of his supporters back home.
We hold no brief for Mawarire and his followers but what we find nauseating is their propensity to use the challenges affecting ordinary Zimbabweans to line their pockets. Western donors must be really gullible to believe that Mawarire is a real force to reckon with who will deliver the regime change they desire in Zimbabwe. Clearly, the man is in the mould of the Professor Lovemore Madhukus of this world who for years used the Zimbabwean story to extract thousands of dollars from donors.
President Mugabe once jokingly told an interviewer that Prof Madhuku relished being arrested so that he could use the accompanying publicity to court sympathy for the National Constitutional Assembly. Several other Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society groups also used the same modus operandi to keep their coffers stuffed with US dollars until donor fatigue rendered most of them defunct. But it seems the donor community learnt nothing from this sad chapter judging by their latest ill-fated mission to dispatch Mawarire back to Zimbabwe ostensibly to prop up the waning fortunes of the opposition.
His homecoming was well-choreographed and began with an interview with The Daily Maverick — a South African newspaper which spoke to the clergyman via an “encrypted” phone from America during which he revealed that he is also considering running for public office. The paper said when he spoke to it initially, from the US, he was adamant he did not want to take that route. But by the time he landed in Johannesburg, his thoughts had “evolved”: “The more I think about the options, the steps going forward, I realise you can only shout about potholes for so long. You start to realise where change comes from. So at some point we have to start saying that for those that have the ability, the passion, or the buy-in from the people, it may be time to throw your hat in.”
According to The Daily Maverick, Mawarire had also got over his initial disgust at the whole idea of getting involved in the “ugly, messy business of electoral politics”. It said he just didn’t like what politicians represented in Zimbabwe — the corruption, the greed, the naked ambition. “It’s the same as when you watch your father beat your mother, you say I will never be a husband. But then, when you grow up, you say you will be a different kind of husband,” it quoted him as saying.
Apparently, Mawarire is not sure, exactly, what public office he will run for, but says that he is likely to run as an independent instead of joining an established political party. “It’s worth noting here that Zimbabwe’s next presidential election is planned for 2018,” the South African paper noted ominously.
The cat is out of the bag — Mawarire is back to run for the highest office in the land but the only problem is that he has no constituency. At his appearance in court in Harare on Friday, only a handful of people were there to offer him support and juxtaposed with the hordes who thronged the Rotten Row Magistrates’ court when he appeared last July, the man’s followers have dropped dramatically.
It would be foolhardy for him to entertain any thoughts of throwing his hat into the political ring anytime now. In any case, that’s the least of his worries as a 20-year jail term hangs over his head after he was charged with subverting a constitutionally elected Government.