#ThisFlag pastor Evan Mawarire’s sister, Teldah, says the ANC sounds like Zanu-PF

The pastor behind the #ThisFlag freedom movement in Zimbabwe has finally been released, but back in South Africa his sister, Teldah Mawarire, believes trouble still lurks.

Teldah has watched from afar as Zimbabwean citizens rally behind her brother, pastor Evan Mawarire, naming him their hero. Through this single man, Zimbabweans have had the courage to speak out against the ruling party, Zanu-PF.

But he wasn’t always an activist.

“When we were younger we fought a lot,” Teldah, who lives in Johannesburg, laughs. “As he grew older, he chose to become a pastor, that’s when I really started seeing his caring side.”

The pastor founded the #ThisFlag movement three months ago. It started with a few short selfie videos where he gave motivational talks and posted them to his Facebook profile. Then, one day three months ago, he caught himself staring at the Zimbabwean flag.

“He was sitting there looking at the flag of the country and the promises that it held for anyone who is a citizen. He started thinking deeply about it to say, ‘what has this flag delivered to me?’,” Teldah recalls.

The movement is determined to remain peaceful and this, Evan says, is the reason why stay-aways were the form of protest Zimbabweans chose. Just over a week ago, Zimbabwe was brought to a near standstill as #ZimShutDown commenced. The campaign called on citizens to stay home instead of attend work in protest against the Zimbabwean government’s lack of accountability.

The Zimbabwean government’s response? To arrest Evan. He was released on Wednesday to rapturous applause in Harare, but his sister believes he’s not safe just yet.

“I don’t believe anyone who is an activist in Zimbabwe can say they are out of the woods. The government is not happy,” Teldah says.

She says that her family is happy that Evan has been released, crediting media pressure as part of the reason why her brother is now out of jail. Zimbabwean journalist and activist Itai Dzamara has yet to be found even though he has been missing for more than a year. Teldah says that increased media attention on the human rights violations in Zimbabwe will help to encourage justice.

Her brother, she says, relies on Zimbabweans for his protection. #ThisFlag is a movement of citizens, and the pastor has entrusted his safety to the people who uphold the movement, she says.

“My brother is not a rich person, he’s a very ordinary person and he can barely afford even a security guard. It’s just about boldness and saying this is what I stand for,” Teldah says.

But support from South Africa has been scarce. Clashes recently broke out at the Beitbridge border, where Teldah says South Africans fought alongside Zimbabwean citizens. The ANC’s response to the protests unfolding in their neighbour’s borders has left Teldah disappointed.

Earlier this week, ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, said that “sponsored elements” were behind the protests in Zimbabwe and the ANC “will never support destabilisation of Zimbabwe”.

“It’s very disappointing because that sounds like it’s straight out of a textbook written by Zanu-PF. If you’ve lived under Zanu-PF, you know the language of Zanu-PF and this is exactly it,” Teldah says.

“People [in Zimbabwe] have genuine concerns about their well-being, their economic condition, about the services they receive from the state, about police brutality, and violations of human rights. Anyone who attempts to speak out is labelled an agent [by Zanu-PF],” she added.

Although South African citizens have shown sympathy for their neighbours, Teldah believes that not enough solidarity exists simply because South Africans haven’t been given the opportunity to show solidarity. So far, two protests have taken place in the country, where people in Cape Town and Johannesburg marched to the Zimbabwean consulates in those cities.

Teldah says that the past weeks have been difficult for her family, who are worried about Evan’s safety. The pastor, who is also a husband and father to two young children aged 5 and 3, is still at risk, but his family have found strength in their religion. Initially, Teldah says, there was some tension in the family when Evan’s videos became more outspoken, but now there is no question about where their support lies.

“The worse thing you can do as a family is to stand against that person. We stand together, we support him, if we fear, we fear together, and if we are victorious, we are victorious together,” Teldah says.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa

Despite tweet, Zuma keeps silent about providing his taxpayer information

The Public Protector has still not received confirmation from former president Jacob Zuma that she may access his tax records —...

Ahead of WEF, Mboweni will have to assure investors that...

The finance minister says despite the difficult fiscal environment, structural reforms are under way to put SA on a new growth path

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.