Churches can change Zimbabwe, says #ThisFlag pastor Evan Mawarire

Mawarire was forced to flee the country after he and his family received death threats.Evan Mawarire

Churches are the "game-changing voice" in the future of Zimbabwe, according to the pastor forced to leave the country after criticising the regime of President Robert Mugabe.

Pastor Evan Mawarire founded the #ThisFlag movement as a protest against conditions in the country, which has suffered economic collapse under Mugabe's rule. There is mass unemployment, widespread corruption and Zimbabwe's education and health services have disintegrated.

Mawarire was forced to flee the country after he and his family received death threats and is now based in the US.

However, speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme, Mawarire said churches around the world had backed his protest.

"It is amazing to see the unity of the body of Christ across the world. And the word of God the Bible implores people like myself to speak for those that have got no voices, to speak for the oppressed. So as a pastor there was never going to be a running away from the political situation in Zimbabwe," he said.

"Our voice as the Church is the game-changing voice in Zimbabwe's future."

Mawarire painted a graphic picture of life in his country. "Citizens of Zimabwe sleep on the streets, unable to go to their homes because they have got no jobs and they haven't made enough money when they are selling vegetables to go home," he said.

"And you have a situation where ordinary Zimbabweans, and this is across the classes, across the races, you cannot access your own cash in the bank. Our education system has broken down, our health system – we have major referral hospitals in Zimbabwe that don't have any water.

"So the day to day life of a Zimbabwean has become very, very difficult in the sense that we live as destitutes in our own country."