Evan Mawarire to unify Zim  opposition against Mugabe regime, run for 2018 elections

Hours before  flying back to Zimbabwe, activist Pastor Evan Mawarire told reporters why he decided to go home.

Now he doesn’t care about being labelled a regime change agent.

After six months in exile in the United States, Pastor Evan Mawarire is  home.

“Zimbabwe is home for me and my family. That’s the place where we have a right to be without acquiring a visa, we are citizens of Zimbabwe. The president of Zimbabwe made comments to the effect that I was not welcome in Zimbabwe, but he doesn’t get to make that decision for me. I have not committed a crime, I’m not a fugitive, I’m a citizen, and an upstanding citizen for that matter,” he said

He anticipated a rough Airport reception from Mugabe’s hard men;

“I arrive at the airport and I get questioned. I arrive at the airport and I get arrested. I arrive at the airport and they ignore me. I go to my house, and they arrest me there a few days later. Or they abduct me, which is even worse. Or maybe they just ignore me completely. I just don’t know what is going to happen,” he said as he was travelling back to Zimbabwe.

Mawarire says that he is aware that the situation remains dangerous in Zimbabwe, but that he believes his new-found global prominence offers some protection.

“You can never be 100% safe. But I think the amount of work that’s been done over the last couple of months, the different recognition from different platforms and the galvanising of many Zimbabweans that has taken place, for me is a very important constituent for safety.”

Mawarire will not return to the life he left. He was a professional MC, but that career has been eclipsed by his reinvention as a political activist.

Instead, he will take advantage of his public profile to help with unifying opposition politics in Zimbabwe, and focus on civic education, especially at the level of local politics.

“The idea is that if people can engage their local leadership, their locally elected official concerning local issues, then they start becoming alert to the process of holding leaders to account, of bringing change and development in their own community.”

Mawarire is also considering running for public office in 2018 elections though it is not clear whether he wants to be an MP or anything different.

“The more I think about the options, the steps going forward, I realise you can only shout about potholes for so long. You start to realise where change comes from. So at some point we have to start saying that for those that have the ability, the passion, or the buy-in from the people, it may be time to throw your hat in.”

He’s not sure, exactly, what public office he would run for, but says that he is likely to run as an independent instead of joining an established political party. It’s worth noting here that Zimbabwe’s next presidential election is planned for 2018.

Mawarire’s family – his wife, Samantha, and three daughters, the youngest of whom was born in the United States – will eventually join him in returning to Harare, Zimbabwe.