OUTSPOKEN Kariba church leader, Patrick Mugadza, who attracted global attention last month after he staged a solo demonstration at the Zanu PF national conference in Victoria Falls, accusing government of fuelling poverty through maladministration, yesterday called on President Robert Mugabe to concede failure and step down immediately.
BY MOSES MATENGA (Newsday)
Addressing journalists in the capital, Mugadza, who is currently on $50 bail following his arrest, said he was ready to face “any consequences” arising from his remarks.
The Remnant Church leader was arrested after he staged a one-man protest in December, where he marched through Victoria Falls town waving a placard with the message: “Mr President, the people are suffering, Proverbs 21 vs 13.”
The State claims that the message was offensive and meant to demean the Office of the President.
Mugadza, who spent 18 days in remand prison after failing to raise the required $500 bail, was only released on New Year’s Eve after the intervention of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
ZLHR applied for a downward review of the bail to $50 after he had spent the Christmas holiday in jail.
Mugadza argued that elections were not the solution to the country’s political crisis, saying losers in the previous elections had always claimed to have won and went on to be declared winners.
“Focusing on elections in Zimbabwe is not the best way forward because we have examples that elections in Zimbabwe, with the way things are right now, do not work,” he said.
“In 2008, MDC claimed they won, it is believed, and when you win, you rule.
“But with a situation whereby somebody won, but did not rule, so if it is like that, you win and do not rule and you may still lose, but you rule, to me, it doesn’t make sense to have an election.”
He added: “My suggestion to the President is for him to allow a situation whereby he is going to be saying guys, things are not okay so as a result, because I love you
people, I fought for this nation, for its progress and not for its retrogression, what I am going to be doing is to give an opportunity to the nation to formulate a government of technocrats.
“He should say: ‘My sons and daughters, we have to take this nation from where it is’.
“I am not saying dislodging him because it will appear violent. I am saying it will be good to speak to him in love and say: ‘Mr President, things are not okay. It’s clear even to you that things are not okay, so may you have a way for this interim government to be put in place for the betterment of the people who you love and the people you fought for’.”
He said if given a minute with Mugabe, he would tell him to step down and allow technocrats to salvage the country from its current economic mess.
He also took a dig at local prophets who prophesied bumper harvests and economic prosperity in 2016, accusing them of acting as mouthpieces of the ruling party.
“It is important to have some men of God, some of our big prophets. I am a little-known pastor, but there are many other men of God out there who I strongly believe should stand up and begin to speak concerning our situation. They know what is going on, but they are not saying much,” he said.
“I was in South Africa about two or so months back, and I am going to be very frank because one of my prophets, when I was there, said the only direction to the solution for the nation of Zimbabwe is when we have a businessman ruling the nation.
“And this was (United Family International Church leader Emmanuel) Makandiwa speaking at one of his seminars in Sandton, South Africa.
“He is supporting an interim government led by technocrats, so I want to urge him [Makandiwa] and many others that have got a massive following and membership, that there are some who are not members, who follow them very much.
“If they stand up and begin to speak, I believe it will make a difference,” the Gutu-born pastor said. He said fear was Zimbabwe’s biggest enemy, adding that he was not afraid even if he were to be abducted Itai Dzamara-style as “sown seeds will always germinate”.
Dzamara, a staunch critic of Mugabe, was abducted in Harare early last year and has not been seen since then.
Mugadza said the reason why Zimbabweans continued to go to work despite receiving their salaries late was because of “a spirit of witchcraft circulating in the country”.
He urged people not to run away when confronted by baton-wielding riot police, saying the next time it happens, demonstrators should sit or kneel down to pray.