A widely shared photograph of a lone man standing outside Parliament with a placard demanding answers to the country’s missing diamond billions sparked admiration for the brave “lone protestor.”
By Phyllis Mbanje
The man — who has been named online as Fagio Marowa — was snapped on Wednesday wearing a green T-shirt and holding up his placard in front of police officers at the entrance to the parliamentary precinct in the capital, Harare.
His placard mentioned the $15 billion that President Robert Mugabe recently said had been lost to diamond firms mining in the Chiadzwa diamond fields. “Iripi?” the placard asked in Shona, meaning “Where is it?”
“This comrade went to Parliament to demand our $15 billion,” well-known activist, Promise Mkwananzi, posted on Facebook.
Press watchdog @ZimMediaReview called Marowa, “A real candidate for Zimbo-of-the-Year” on Twitter.
Marowa’s lone protest also seemed to remind Zimbabweans of the exploits of missing activist, Itai Dzamara.
Dzamara mounted a one-man protest metres away from Parliament in Africa Unity Square before he was abducted in March 2015 and has not been seen since.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has blamed the Mugabe government for his disappearance.
Rumours swirled early on Thursday that Marowa had also been abducted. But a post on his Facebook page appeared to confirm he was “safe and sound”.
However, unlike Dzamara, Marowa was not known before the protest and the fact that he went underground after the demonstration has fuelled debate about his intentions and background.
He has been accused of being a member of the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) after his previous Facebook posts revealed that he is or was an ardent supporter of Mugabe.
The attacks against Marowa on social media forced a Zimbabwe People First official Sefree Mafukidze to leap to his defence.
Mafukidze claimed that he had planned the protest with Marowa and he was not a member of the dreaded CIO.
“We were arrested by security at Parliament and taken to Harare Central where we were later released after the intervention of our lawyer Tariro Paul Machiridza,” Mafukidze posted on Facebook on Friday.
“A good number of people within opposition political parties have found it as an opportunity to call both our move and us as a Central Intelligence Organisation operation, with some calling us ‘Green Bombers’, some calling us fake, some calling our demonstration stage managed.
“I will not stop anyone from talking I guess, but [I] want to understand how the CIO would benefit from such an act?”
Marowa’s last post on Facebook was on Wednesday at 7:48pm where he claimed that he had just been released by the police.
But it is his old posts on Facebook that have left many with more questions than answers. In one of his posts, Marowa wished Mugabe a happy birthday last month
“The man [Mugabe] has been kept by the Lord in an amazing way, 92 years is not a joke ladies and gents, it’s only God who can do this,” he posted on February 21.
On Fathers Day in 2013 he posted: “Help me to say to my president, my hero, my boss, his Excellency Cde RG Mugabe. Happy Fathers’ Day.”
Last year, Marowa praised First Lady Grace Mugabe for her charity work but expressed misgivings about her political ambitions.
He also expressed concern when Grace spent some time in the Far East recuperating from an operation last year.
“I am troubled to hear that my beloved mother Dr Grace Mugabe was flown out of the country for treatment,” he posted at the time.
The Facebook posts also reveal that Marowa is an avid follower of UFIC leader prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa. Marowa was not reachable for comment.
Mugabe’s revelations early this month that diamonds worth $15 billion could have been stolen by companies that were given licences to operate in Chiadzwa sparked outrage.
Some opposition parties have urged the 92-year-old leader to resign over the scandal, while other critics are calling for an audit of the mining operations.
Mugabe’s shock admission came after years of denials by his government that diamond revenues were not being channeled to Treasury amid suspicion that connected Zanu PF officials were smuggling the precious mineral out of the country.