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Ask Takudzwa 19 – Zimbabwean Religion as, Fundamentally, Political

2022-05-10

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/12/31

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand some more.

Here we talk about religion as politics in Zimbabwe.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We have talked about religion and politics in Zimbabwe. How has the idea of a religious political personality created a basis of someone who is, functionally, better off because of the Halo Effect around being a religious individual & a public servant?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: Definitely, all the leading politicians in Zimbabwe have appealed to the religious with even the most progressive of them all claiming to be a pastor towards election time. This has affected their stance on the legalization of homosexuality. They have all vowed to keep homosexuality illegal because of their religious personas.

Jacobsen: What political figures in Zimbabwe are religious and work for the public good who are better known?

Mazwienduna: Pastor Evan Mawarire is one of the most significant political activists that came up in Zimbabwe this decade. He launched a political campaign on social media, calling for the rule of law and government accountability in what is now known as the #ThisFlag movement. The campaign inspired demonstrations and strikes against the government that were met with brutal violence. The state-sponsored reign of terror on the campaign ended up shutting the whole movement down and pastor Evan who has been in exile in the United States of America for a while has been silenced for good. His fight for the rule of law is worth noting however. It is exactly what Zimbabwe needs to start moving forward.

Jacobsen: What political figures in Zimbabwe are religious and work for self-interest who are better known?

Mazwienduna: That would be every other politician who views religion as a political vehicle. Unlike Pastor Evan; an already religious figure who decided to stand up for the rule of law, Zimbabwean politicians do religious stunts especially towards elections to garner support profiting of the Christian majority in the country. The President appeals to African Apostolic sects, the most popular one in the rural areas: the same people who deny their children medical care and do child marriages. These are the John Marange and John Masowe sects. Their leaders, in turn, command their followers to vote for the dictator and it always works since the majority of the Zimbabwean population is from the communal rural areas where these sects are dominant. The opposition leader Nelson Chamisa also conveniently became a pastor in a pentecostal evangelical church towards the elections making his whole campaign centred in a religious mantra. Unfortunately for him, the urban population that goes to Pentecostal churches is not as big as the rural one that follows the African Apostolic Church.

Jacobsen: What political figures in Zimbabwe are religious, are intoxicated with supernatural ideas, and propose crazy policy or state bigoted things against ethnic groups, against the non-religious, and against women who are better known?

Mazwienduna: While religion is used for political mileage, it hasn’t been used against the non-religious community. Zimbabwean politicians understand very well that the constitution protects none religious people and Atheists, so they don’t attack us. Both the ruling and opposition party leadership have however condemned the LGBTQ community countless times and people’s sexuality is still criminalized because of it, even in the constitution. When confronted about it by LGBTQ activists former president Robert Mugabe said, “Gay people are dogs, they don’t deserve any of my attention.” He later on apologized saying that he realized his comments were insensitive… to dogs. He went on to say gay people are worse than dogs, “…at least dogs know the reproductive roles God gave them, not this Sodomites.”

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: It’s a pleasure Scott.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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