Originally published in IOL
A pastor, who in December last year went on a solo demonstration against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in the resort town of Victoria Falls, has pulled another stunt.
This time, Remnant Church leader Patrick Phillip Mugadza — now commonly known as the “Mugabe-must-go-pastor” — chained himself to a pole while holding a cross in one hand and a Bible in the other, before speaking to passersby for an hour and half about “what we are supposed to do to free ourselves from the ills which are taking place in our nation”.
In a statement, Mugadza said he was blasting “the cowardice where the majority of our people are silent when just but everything is going in the wrong direction under our watch”.
He said: “(There is) need for freedom and not only independence. People like (journalist-cum-human rights activist) Itai Dzamara are abducted for saying the truth; people are beaten when they stand up for the truth, yet we say we are independent.
“Until people stand up and speak, there is no change which will come to us. Zimbabweans … need to stand and demand [their] freedom, prosperity and jobs.”
Mugadza said being oppressed by fellow countrymen was worse than the colonial era.
“Until we stand up and go in the streets and demand our freedom, we will watch the nation bleeding to death. Industries have been turned into universities, so that should tell you there is no vision for industrial capacitation,” he said.
The pastor also laid into the country’s security forces, lampooning them for travelling in the back of copper-carrying trucks, saying they could not even afford fares.
“My plea to you those who drive, please, I know most of you are bitter about them, but let’s help them by picking them up. Let’s win their hearts. We need them in this struggle for them to be on our side. Jeremiah 29 v 11 promises us a good future and not a miserable which we are facing now.”
In December, Mugadza led a one-man demonstration in Victoria Falls during the ruling Zanu PF’s national conference where he waved a placard inscribed: “Mr President, the people are suffering. Proverbs 21:13.”
The Bible verse reads: “Whoever closes his ears to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”
He was charged with criminal nuisance and spent 18 days in prison before being rescued by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and is currently out on US$50 bail.
Early this year, Mugadza said he did not fear being killed by State security agents or disappearing like Dzamara, who was abducted from his high-density home last year in March by suspected State agents and has not been seen since.
Dzamara had staged demonstrations against Mugabe and his government and even written a letter demanding that the President resign immediately.
Mugadza back then said despite what happened to Dzamara, the disappeared activist had “sown seed” that would germinate.
“If I get killed or disappear, I’ll also be a seed. But many Dzamaras will be coming. People will not be afraid,” the clergyman said, adding he was ready to face the consequences of his actions.