Five church-based groups issued a joint statement urging the government to acknowledge that the country needs an “extraordinary collective response to rescue [it] from total collapse”.
Among the signatories to the statement are Bishop Ancelimo Magaya’s Zimbabwe Divine Destiny, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Christian Voice, Zimbabwe Pastors’ Fellowship and Prayer Network Zimbabwe. Leaders are expected to take to the streets of Harare on Thursday to demonstrate, according to Zimbabwean outlet News Day.
Pressure is growing on Mugabe, 92, to step down. Violent protests against his rule are a regular occurrence, with demonstrators uniting around #ThisFlag on social media to condemn high unemployment, acute cash shortages and corruption.
For now, the ruling Zanu-PF remain united, but ambitious factions within the party are plotting to control the post-Mugabe era.
Religious leaders are at the forefront of Zimbabwe’s protest movement. Pastor Evan Mawarire, who started the hashtag after a series of popular YouTube videos, fled to South Africa last month in fear of reprisals from government security forces.
On Wednesday police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse an youth-led protest in Harare against police brutality. Home Affairs minister, Ignatius Chombo was quick to condemn the mayhem, saying that those caught on the wrong side of the law will live to regret. “[Morgan] Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party are to blame for all [the destruction]”, Chombo said.
On Friday, 200,000 demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Harare to protest Mugabe’s rule. Leading the protests are Tsvangirai, who is the former prime minister and now leads the MDC-T party, and former vice president Joice Mujuru.
“Zimbabweans must begin to break out of fear of the regime,” Tsvangirai told NewsDay. “They must begin to express themselves so that the regime has no option, but to listen.”
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