By Jean Gasho
Dear Pastor Evan Mawarire
Firstly I hope you and your family are settling well in the USA, it must be quite refreshing there compared to our troubled Zimbabwe. I write this letter to you as a follower of This Flag movement. I am one of the thousands of people who prayed for you fervently when you were arrested. I also prayed for you the day you fled to South Africa when no one knew where you were and your followers were worried sick about your safety. I remember waking my husband up (who is not even from Zimbabwe) asking him to pray for you with me. Everyday he would ask me of the latest update. We watched the whole movement in amazement as it gained momentum, watching all the videos daily and praying earnestly for Zimbabwe. That is how heavily involved my husband and I became in the This Flag movement.
What first attracted me to This Flag was your humility, passion and eloquence. I remember saying often to my husband that “truly this man is a man of God”. I was once badly abused by a well known Zimbabwean Pastor in a situation that almost took my life and everything I had ever worked for, so it was truly refreshing to finally see a genuine Zimbabwean Pastor who has the needs of the people in his heart. I even started going back listening to your sermons on marriage, in a way you became my Pastor. I held you in high esteem and honor. I started to see a glimmer of hope for beloved Zimbabwe, even though I haven’t lived there for over 15 years. I thought well, God has surely chosen you to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from bondage, especially those back home. I remember watching a video where you said even if they abduct you, kill you or arrest you, the movement will still go on. I thought you were extremely brave and courageous.
However fast-forward four weeks later, I haven’t got a clue as to what’s happening anymore. Each time I watch your recent videos I feel confused and somewhat betrayed. I feel like you are a different man to the man you were before you fled Zimbabwe. Your style and tone of talking has changed, the humility I once saw in you I don’t see it anymore. I don’t hear you say hatichatya (we are not afraid anymore). What puzzles me the most is that since you left Zimbabwe, you started saying This Flag movement was never about one person. With all the respect, YOU Evan Mawarire started this movement. You are the face and founder of it. You are the leader of it. There is no movement under the sun that does not have a leader or a person who influences it. To say we are all leaders and heroes of this movement is just downright stupid and doesn’t make any sense at all. I find it quite rude and offensive that you deny being the leader of a movement you started. The definition of leader is a person that holds a dominant or superior position within a field, and is able to exercise a high degree of influence or control over others. Does that definition not describe you Pastor Evan?
When you started This Flag movement and asked people to join in and follow YOUR vision, you
automatically became a LEADER. You are also a pastor, which again automatically makes you a leader in the community. You became a role model to thousands of people. When you were arrested people came outside the court house to support you in thousands, risking their own lives for you. You told people to risk their lives and protest against a dangerous government. YOU gave instructions and people followed.
They did it because you the LEADER of the movement gave them the courage. A lot of people were arrested during the stay away. Hello? Do you remember Linda Masarira at all? A mother of 5 children languishing in a Zimbabwe jail for protesting against the government during the stay away you called. There are people out there who have risked their lives for Zimbabwe. You told people to shut their business down and not go to work, they listened to you and lost money because they thought you were in this together with them. And today you have the cheek of denying that you were the leader and the face of this movement when people have sacrificed their lives to follow a call YOU made? And where are you as you make these offensive videos, jetting off to America for a better life…even your skin has changed in these few weeks you have left Zimbabwe, showing that right now Pastor, life is good! But unfortunately not so good for Linda and other activists.
And to add more insult to all those people suffering in Zimbabwe, you now say you are just a citizen? What planet are you now on dear Pastor? What the heck? Its bad enough you deny being a politician, yeah whatever. Sugar coat it all you want and play with words all you want, but the fact that you are now eligible to seek political asylum in USA says it all. Anyway thats another letter for another day, now back to this I am just a citizen issue. You are more than a citizen. Please stop insulting
Zimbabweans. Please just stop it. According to your own Facebook page that you opened, you are a public figure with almost 50 000 followers.
You have given interviews on BBC, SKY NEWS (where you wept buckets), SABC and just about any international major platform that will have you. As if that is going to change anything or help anyone in Zimbabwe. I feel you are now just a celebrity making the most out of your new found fame at the expense of suffering Zimbabweans. The president of Zimbabwe and every Zimbabwean on the planet knows who you are. Your name comes up in political news of Zimbabwe. So please cut the “I AM JUST A CITIZEN” crap. It is very offensive to some of us and our relatives back home who are “just citizens” You are a famous leader and a Public Figure. You know as much as I do that you are a more than just a citizen of Zimbabwe.
Ok let me calm down a bit, sorry if I came across as rude in the above passage, I really had to let that out. I am just finding your videos to be more ridiculous by the day and God knows what you are going to come up with from the luxury comforts of America. To be honest Pastor, since you left the country, I feel totally betrayed and used by you. I also believe its within my rights to feel this way and I should be allowed to say it without fear. I invested a lot of time and emotions into This Flag. I know there are many people out there who feel the same way, probably half of your followers now.
And in case you had not noticed, not everyone is calling you a hero anymore for the followers of this flag are now split.
A lot of people now think you abandoned the movement and you are a coward. A number think this was all a plan to get asylum status in the USA, some say that’s why you cried on SKY TV. A number of suspicious whatsapp messages circulated online when you were arrested that it was all a plan to move to USA at the expense of gullible followers. A lot of us found the messages absurd but today sadly you have not done anything to prove any of those messages as fake. If anything you have now authenticated those messages.
Each time a person expresses how they feel about you, they are literally bullied into submission by the other half of the followers. I had to be very brave to express my opinion in this open letter for I know the wrath which awaits me after I click the publish button. According to your followers, people should not criticize you. If they dare they should at least have done something for the country or have a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. Most people who try to vent their frustrations of how the movement has ended are often persecuted, called names and insulted. Your followers are the ones who claim to dislike the government and want democracy, yet they behave exactly like ZANU PF and torment anyone who dare speak out against THIS FLAG. I refuse to be bullied into submission by your faithful followers Pastor. And before they ask me I HAVE NOT GOT A SOLUTION TO THE ZIMBABWE CRISIS NEITHER HAVE I EVER DONE ANYTHING FOR THE COUNTRY. I am just here to exercise my democratic rights as a citizen and by expressing my views. The little I have done is pray for you and for Zimbabwe. I hope that little counts.
I believe you have let Zimbabwe down Pastor. I believe you have not been honest with people. It does seem like you are taking people for a ride. At least just be straight with people. Be honest. You said you went to South Africa for a pre planned business trip, though we all know that wasn’t the case. Now you claim you have gone to USA to meet some citizens…ummm like really. You also said you are going to America to “think”. I do not think this is the time to be taking “thinking” vacations.
You are a public figure. You thrust yourself into the public domain and volunteered a leadership position in a movement that challenges the government, yet your followers believe you are not eligible for criticism. You are supposed to be a Pastor, a man of integrity, you owe it to the people to explain some of your controversial actions.
A lot of people out there are confused as to what you are doing. Stop insulting the people who have risked their lives during this movement. In your last video you even said “Ku Zimbabwe kune ma one ariko”. What an insult to people like Linda Masarira who in her own words said shes suffering like this for her own children, for a better Zimbabwe.
I wrote this letter to you directly, on behalf of those petrified of saying that they feel you have run away from what you started. Of course we all know you have a young family to think of, but so does a lot of activists in Zimbabwe including Linda. A lot of these activists on the ground have not got the luxury of flying to the USA when the going gets tough. No one knows what Linda’s 5 children are eating in Zimbabwe. No one knows about their health and well being. You are quite lucky and privileged. Its such a shame that this is now the fruit of THIS FLAG. Confusion, Division, Debates and Controversies.
I find it quite ridiculous that the faithful followers are saying those who criticize are used to being spoon fed and hero worshiping. Apparently we are now supposed to all take your role and lead the movement forward as you have fled the scene. We are now all supposed to be leaders. How ridiculous. Apparently you have done your part, I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what part exactly you have played. I always thought its how you end the race that matters not how you begin. You were supposed to endure the race you started, leaving before you even got halfway has unfortunately taken away from how well you started. Sadly now your legacy is that you are the guy that fled from Zimbabwe after he started a ‘We are not afraid’ movement. Oh the irony of it all! By the way the only people I see hero worshiping you are the ones bullying others into submitting to every word you say.
In your last video announcing your move to America you addressed those who are calling you their hero and said you do not want to be called a hero. Very interesting but please can you also address the other half of your followers, those who feel you betrayed them, you used them for personal gain and that you are a coward. Don’t you think you owe these people an honest explanation for wasting their time. Is this not the democracy we are all crying for.
Looking forward to your response.
Citizen Jean Gasho (Not a member of ZANU PF)
Sunday, 14 August 2016
By Jean Gasho