NEWS

Five Things You Didn't Know About FREED Zim Pastor Evan Mawarire

The #ThisFlag protest leader was released on bail on Wednesday. But who is he?

08/02/2017 20:15 SAST | Updated 08/02/2017 21:28 SAST
REUTERS
Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire reads a bible, handcuffed, as he arrives at the Harare Magistrates court. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

That picture of Zimbabwe protest pastor Evan Mawarire reading his Bible as he was driven off in a police truck last week?

Fellow activist Patson Dzamara said it left him "heartbroken" – and it will have touched a chord in more than a few Zimbabweans' hearts.

#ThisFlag founder Mawarire was granted bail on Wednesday afternoon by the Harare High Court (though he will only be released from jail on Thursday, according to lawyers). Mawarire won the trust of many last year with his obvious faith, his refusal to side with a single opposition party and his insistence on non-violent methods of protest.

Whether he can regain that trust after disappearing into exile and then returning unexpectedly six months later still remains to be seen. Social media in Zimbabwe seem to be warming up to him.

Here are five things you may not know about Mawarire:

Marriage counsellor

Well before he launched #ThisFlag, Mawarire wrote two books giving advice for married couples.

MC for ruling party wedding

Along with his church work, Mawarire was a well-known master of ceremonies in and around Harare. He was notably MC at the wedding of Higher Education Minister (and former information minister) Jonathan Moyo's daughter in 2014.

Chair recipient

Supa Mandiwanzira is the IT minister who first clashed with Mawarire following a much-publicised interview on the minister's ZiFM radio station last May. Mandiwanzira has said that he once donated chairs to Mawarire's His Generation church in the Zimbabwean capital.

Nominated for a freedom of expression prize

Mawarire has just been nominated for an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award (there will be winners in four categories). The timing of the announcement of this nomination may not do the pastor any favours: President Robert Mugabe's government is likely to see it as evidence that he is sponsored by the West.

Three daughters

The most recent addition to the Mawarire family was a baby girl, born in the US in November. His wife's pregnancy may have partly motivated his decision to take his family into exile in July. He has two older girls and has previously said that his inability to raise school fees for them was the driving force behind the first protest video he posted to Facebook. – News24