President Robert Mugabe’s administration has been warned of impending civil unrest if he does not urgently address the current instability in the country.

In a scathing joint statement yesterday, several church organisations — the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Catholic Bishops Conference, Habakkuk Trust and Christian Alliance — lashed out at Mugabe’s brutal reaction to the #ThisFlag campaign led by cleric Evan Mawarire.

“These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs, which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed. We call upon the government to immediately investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents that are alleged to have brutalised people. The government should also urgently act and address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid total collapse of the State,” the church groups said.

They further said Zimbabweans had lost confidence in Mugabe’s rule.

“Given all this, citizens have lost confidence and trust in our government. Therefore, there is urgent need for national dialogue between the government and different national stakeholders, towards finding a lasting solution than to ignore, politicise people’s genuine grievances and label them as opposition or demonise and harass the church and her leaders,” the statement said.

“We raise concern on growing harassment and arrests of religious leaders, such as the recent arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire, and also the intimidation of other pastors speaking on behalf of powerless people.”

Mugabe seemed to stoke anti-Mawarire sentiments while addressing mourners at the burial of national hero, Charles Utete on Tuesday and accused the #ThisFlag founder of being foreign-funded.