Zimbabwe pastor becomes local superhero in populist #ThisFlag fight against Mugabe regime

Evan Mawarire is lifted by followers after his release at Harare Magistrates court on July 13.Philimon Bulawayo/Reuterd

A Christian pastor in Zimbabwe is achieving hero cult status on social media and among the local populace after touchlighting a populist campaign to do something about the country's economic crisis.

Evan Mawarire was released from prison by Harare magistrates this week and has temporarily left the country on a prior engagement after learning that "groups of men" were hunting him.

He had been facing charges by public prosecutors of inciting public violence, subversion and even trying to overthrow President Mugabe after his peaceful #thisflag campaign against corruption and economic mismanagement took off on social media. The magistrates threw out the charges and released them.

The plight of Zimbabwe has attracted support from church leaders worldwide. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, currently does not wear a clerical collar and has said he will not wear it again while Mugabe is in power. 

Pastor Mawarire wrote on Facebook after his release: "Fellow Citizens thank you for your concern for my safety and whereabouts. I am well and safe taking some time to recuperate.

"Unfortunately i have been unable to communicate via my phone as usual because the Police are still in possession of my phone.

"I am also reliably informed that groups of men have been apparently looking for me at my home and office. Currently I have travelled to attend to a previously arranged engagement outside the country and will be back home to my family and work soon and indeed all the other significant movements in Zimbabwe are not about one person. Take ownership of this work. I take my hat off for all your amazing efforts in building a better Zimbabwe.


He also tweeted: 


According to BBC Africa, in spite of his lack of political experiece his campaign has won over Zimbabweans because they are fed up with so many existing politicians.

One UK Zimbabwean tweeted an image of Mawarire as superhero "Captain Zimbabwe".

"I did it with the younger generation of Zimbabwe in mind who might not understand what the struggle in Zimbabwe is about," Tawada Sibotshiwe told the BBC after sharing the picture on Twitter. "I did it so they can visualise the man who has inspired Zimbabweans to seek dialogue with their government in a peaceful manner."