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 perspective, and 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.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists,American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash