Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira was on Monday involved in a nasty brawl with activist, Evan Mawarire, a cleric fronting what has become known as #thisflag campaign.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mawarire had appeared on Mandiwanzira’s ZiFM Stereo radio station with Zanu PF activist, Tafadzwa Musarara in a heated debate over the social media campaign to force government to “listen to the people’s voice”.
The cleric told NewsDay that he had been waylaid by Mandiwanzira, as he made his way out of the studio.
“Mandiwanzira was waiting for me outside the studio and began shouting at me. He called me all sorts of names and accused me of seeking to subvert the government. He was yelling and cursing, accusing me of abusing Cabinet ministers and seeking to make white people happy in order to destroy Zimbabwe. He said I must be taught a ‘lesson’.
He asked about my association with United States ambassador (Harry Thomas Junior),” he said.
Mawarire received support from callers, among them “Ambuya vaHector”, who recounted the horrors of the 2008 political violence as well as the financial losses incurred by pensioners.
“I have no savings, wiped out in 2008. People died, we cannot speak because we are scared. You know how people died in 2008 in areas like Mutoko and Murehwa. It was terrible. We are happy with the campaign and I am sure many people are supporting him (Mawarire). We want answers and we are supporting this campaign. At 62, I am still trying to buy and sell for survival, it’s hard,” the caller said.
Mawarire also confirmed a short video clip that has gone viral on social media networks, where Mandiwanzira is heard threatening to “remove” him (Mawarire) from microblogging site Twitter.
“I will remove you on Twitter. I will dismiss you,” the minister is heard angrily shouting at Mawarire in what appears to be in a corridor at ZiFM Stereo.
On his Twitter account, Mandiwanzira said: “Shocked that lying pastor brags on radio that he does work for government ministries and turns around to say ‘murikudya mega (you are enjoying on your own to the exclusion of everyone)’.
Mawarire yesterday said: “I am shaken. We are fed up and not scared anymore. When a minister waylays you and abuses you at the radio station he owns, then it is scary. I feel abused for expressing my democratic right.”
Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo has also had a social media altercation with Mawarire, whose campaign has gained traction with each passing day.
During the discussion, Mawarire said Moyo had also accused him of being funded by the West, a claim repeated by Musarara. The cleric, however, denied the accusations when asked by host Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa.
“Absolutely not! How do I get funding from the West when I am using my phone? Do you think Zimbabweans are no brainy enough to challenge authorities on issues? We always have to be funded by someone and how many times has our government said that about anyone who dares challenge them?” Mawarire queried.
Musarara described Mawarire as a political activist and insinuated Botswana President Ian Khama would not have allowed the ongoing social media campaign in his country.
Mandiwanzira could not be reached for comment yesterday.