The Mail & Guardian Africa reports on Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, who has inspired a nationwide resistance to Robert Mugabe and now faces sedition charges. In April 2016, Mawarire “draped Zimbabwe’s flag over his shoulders, logged on to Facebook and delivered a passionate appeal to his fellow countrymen. He urged them to have the courage to fight for their nation’s future, using the hashtag #ThisFlag.”
His appeal was followed by a general strike in July 2016 that shut down “schools, banks and businesses across the country.” He was arrested shortly after, released on a technicality, then re-arrested earlier this year: “If convicted, he will face up to 20 years in prison, just for calling a peaceful protest.”
He’s far from the only victim of Mugabe’s regime: “In 2008, the opposition posed a serious threat to Mugabe’s electoral victory despite Zanu-PF’s attempts to rig the vote. In the first-round vote in March, opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) garnered 48% of the vote, beating Mugabe, but narrowly missing victory. The electoral commission scheduled run-offs three months later – and Mugabe used that time to target MDC supporters in bloody attacks that author and human rights lawyer Peter Godwin deems a ‘campaign of torture.’”
Mugabe’s spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation, “worked to intimidate opposition party leaders by abducting their family members, looting their homes and setting party office buildings on fire. Mugabe’s thugs systematically hunted down first-round MDC voters and beat them to the brink of death, filling hospitals with assault victims – even sending some to ‘re-education’ camps where they were assaulted repeatedly and, sometimes, killed.”
Is it any wonder Africans are skeptical of regimes that wear the mantle of democracy only because hold elections?