resident Mugabe’s 37-year reign ended with a peaceful military “coup” in November 2017. Zimbabwe’s 85% Christian population had witnessed terrible human rights atrocities during his regime, with many suffering persecution.
Although the constitution guarantees religious freedom and freedom of expression, churches, and Christian groups were among those targeted for repression and many church leaders were arrested. Religious gatherings perceived to be critical of Mugabe’s government were categorised as political events and monitored.
Pastor Evan Mawarire is one of the Christian leaders who suffered numerous arrests for speaking out against injustice. He has condemned the corruption of both Mugabe’s regime and President Mnangagwa’s. In 2016, Mawarire’s “#ThisFlag” movement inspired large-scale protests against Mugabe’s totalitarian rule in a call for justice that resonated with Christians. After he led a national strike, Mawarire was charged with incitement to commit public violence. In January 2019, he was arrested again for criticising a 130% fuel hike, but released on bail. At the end of 2019, he was still awaiting trial.
Zimbabwe is in economic crisis due to recurring drought and decades of corrupt, despotic rule. There is terrible poverty, unemployment, hyperinflation and corruption continues. A severe drought struck in 2015-16, but the 2019 drought was the worst recorded in a century. Cyclone Idai destroyed crops and harvests in March 2019, worsening the economy still further.
In January 2019, 600 were arrested in protests against the economic crisis that continues under the new government. It was claimed that dozens were killed. Church leaders in neighbouring Zambia issued a statement: “We cannot sit idle while our neighbours are being beaten, arrested, detained and killed.” In April 2019, Zimbabwean Christians marched with crosses in a peaceful protest against the repressive government and the deteriorating economy.
Pray that Zimbabwe will recover economically after years of political corruption and drought. Ask that Christians will be free from oppression and for an end to human rights violations. Pray that brave Christians speaking out for truth and justice, will not be discouraged but be strengthened in their faith.