‘I have been arrested for praying for my country’: Clerics, activists arrested at a prayer meeting

About 35 people including pastors and activists who had attended a prayer meeting in Harare on Friday were reportedly arrested by the police.

The prayer meeting was part of the ‘Zimbabwe We Want Campaign’ whose launch was supposed to be held on the same day at the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe but police had banned it citing it was a political meeting.

However, participants later gathered at the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny offices in Central Harare, to do a short prayer and when they had just finished anti-riot police descended on them.

The police ordered them to sit down while others were allegedly beaten up and others were arrested.

In an interview with CITE, Pastor Milson Ndlovu of Brethren In Christ Church in Bulawayo who had travelled to Harare for the prayer meeting confirmed the ‘sad’ development.

“We were gathering together to pray to reflect on the church’s task on human needs so when we were praying for the Zimbabwe we want. A space of prayer is a sacred space, only God can close that space,” he said.

“Our purpose was clear calling – churches, Christian groups and like-minded people coming together to pray for a better country. Actually, we had finished the prayer, believe you me, I was telling people to dismiss and we would advise them going forward. Immediately police officers jumped in and rounded everyone, ordered people to sit down.”

Pastor Ndlovu said everyone “felt terrorised” and wondered what crime they had committed.

“I understand some were beaten from the witnesses who saw them. We are yet to find out who needs hospitalisation or some might be in need of medicine that needs to be attended to,” he said.

Pastor Ndlovu lamented it was sad that some colleagues who had travelled for the prayer were also arrested.

“The unfortunate part is Mbuso Fuzwayo, the secretary-general of Ibhetshu LikaZulu and his colleagues who were coming to be with us for prayer service plus pastors who came from Masvingo and all the other provinces were rounded up and have been locked in cells,” he said.

He noted that the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had been dispatched to afford legal representation but were denied access to the 35.

“They went to cells to monitor what is happening and they said they will only have access when those who are arrested are put into cells and have been identified,” said Pastor Ndlovu.

The pastor made a plea to other bishops and reverends in Harare to provide assistance for the incarcerated.

“If there’s an opportunity to assist those imprisoned for the gospel that would be great. I remember a text where God said I was in prison and you could not come to visit me and the imprisonment was not politically motivated but of a religious nature,” Pastor Ndlovu said.

Zimbabwe Divine Destiny founder Bishop Ancelimo Magaya took to Twitter to confirm his arrest: “I have been arrested for praying for my country.”

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