Pastor Evan Mawarire, leader of the #ThisFlag protest movement in Zimbabwe, has been drumming support for his cause in neighbouring South Africa, whose government he hopes will lobby President Robert Mugabe and assist Zimbabweans.

A social media campaign dubbed #ThisFlag saw Zimbabwean citizens stay home last week, effectively closing down businesses, shops and schools, in protest against Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF.

In neighbouring countries, Zimbabweans living in diaspora joined in solidarity with #ThisFlag's mass days of action, and the South African trade union federation Cosatu mid-July announced it was backing #ThisFlag demos which started to have regional ramifications.

However, it appears South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) party is not willing to assist Zimbabwe's opposition campaigns, with top officials seeming to adhere to Mugabe's claims that the pastor is receiving funding from foreign countries bent on destabilising the nation.

Last month, Mugabe's government blamed opposition parties and foreign governments – notably the United States and French embassies in the capital – for stirring unrest. Both ambassadors denied the allegations.

Mawarire: South Africa needs to do more for Zimbabwe

For Pastor Mawarire, who is touring South Africa and last month called on the international community to put pressure on the government of the Mugabe to "listen to its own citizens", South Africa needs to do more for its neighbour.

"Unfortunately, we have been branded by the secretary-general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, as being funded by the West. That's unfair. When Gwede sees me, he should see his brother's son. And that's what makes me sad. He should see me and say, 'Young man, you have come running to me. What's the matter between you and your dad? Can I talk to your dad and try and help you?' (...) And if there is a problem with my dad at home, I must be able to go to my brother's dad and ask for help. But if he closes the door on me, on us, what message does it send about him and my dad?" the leader told New Zimbabwe newspaper.

"It's true, we are brothers, and the governments need to talk to each other because if one nation goes to ruin, it's harmful for the whole region."

He added: "The ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe haven't had help for years. How it has worked in the past and the struggles we have faced as African nations, we have always helped each other. Zimbabwe's government was helped by South African revolutionaries in our struggle for independence, just like our government helped them out too."

South Africa and Zimbabwe are both members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the South African ANC party has always considered Mugabe's Zanu-PF as a fraternal liberation movement.

Pastor Evan Mawarire
Pastor Evan Mawarire, who said he has no political ambitions, has become the public face of a wave of protests in Zimbabwe MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images