BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Fierce government critic and preacher Talent Chiwenga is said to have fled his Harare home because suspected state security agents are allegedly trailing him.
Human Rights Watch’s southern African director Dewa Mavhinga, who said he had spoken to Chiwenga from his hideout, raised the alarm in a statement yesterday.
“(On Friday), Apostle Chiwenga told me by phone that he believes the Zimbabwean authorities have dispatched a team of state agents known as the ‘Ferret team’ to kill him for his activism following several failed attempts over the last two years,” Mavhinga said.
“Apostle Chiwenga has regularly used street sermons in Harare and social media platforms to openly rebuke Zimbabwe’s government for its gross human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, abductions, and torture of activists, rights defenders, and journalists.
“The Zimbabwean authorities should take steps to ensure the security and protection of Apostle Chiwenga and other critics of the government.
“Human rights advocates like Chiwenga should not live in fear for exercising their fundamental rights to free speech.”
He added: “Four confidential sources in the security sector separately told me last week that the authorities are unhappy with Chiwenga and view him as a security threat that should be “neutralised.”
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“Three security officers described the ongoing surveillance of Chiwenga’s Harare church and home by people in unmarked vehicles.”
Chiwenga yesterday told Standard People that he was hiding out of the country.
This is not the first time that the preacher, who has established a reputation of attacking government officials, has expressed fears that his life is in danger.
Chiwenga in July 2020 survived an accident that claimed the life of his wife and two other people.
In 2020, the preacher wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa begging for a meeting claiming that his life was in danger as he was being followed by alleged Military Intelligence Department and Central Intelligence Organisation operatives.
In 2018, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga once warned Chiwenga against attacking senior government officials under the guise of religion.
“There are some who now call themselves prophets. There is this one who is called Talent,” he said.
“Let it end today. Let it end here, now.
“We don’t have that way where someone moves around attacking seniors, claiming to be worshiping God.
“God does not send you to insult others,” the VP said then.
Last year Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe accused the preacher and others of being part of an “illegal and subversive bandwagon under the control of certain diplomatic missions”.
Chiwenga came to prominence after a series of pre-elections predictions where he claimed the election would be rigged and that a number of senior officials linked to the November 2017 coup would die in quick succession.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said he cannot comment about the preacher’s claims that he was being hounded until he made a formal police report.