Zim preacher who started #ThisFlag jailed ahead of another national strike

European leaders who are being asked to forget the last three bailouts and give Mugabe’s Regime yet another chance should look beyond the pleading of Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. Zimbabweans have at long last taken to the streets to show their anger, free from arrest only because public sector salaries haven’t been paid in six weeks. The protests have shaken the grip of the thieving group that has ruled the nation for 36 years, an elite desperate to find money to pay their suddenly reluctant policemen and soldiers. What beggars belief, however, is that while Chinamasa begs in Western capitals, his cabinet colleague Ignatius Chombo accuses the same potential donors of having instigated the unrest. The reality is a lot simpler. Zimbabweans have rallied around a previously unknown Baptist preacher, 39 year old Evan Mawarire. The lament he posted on YouTube launched a social media fuelled #ThisFlag movement which has spread like a winter bush fire. People power is finally showing its teeth in Harare. Western Governments shouldn’t douse the flames by throwing good money after bad. – Alec Hogg      

By Brian Latham and Godfrey Marawanyika

(Bloomberg) — Zimbabwean police will be out “in full force” to deal with a planned national strike Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo said, hours after a Baptist preacher who leads a protest movement was arrested.

Pastor Evan Mawarire, who launched the movement #ThisFlag, to get Zimbabweans to rally round the national flag and speak out against Mugabe policies, is seen at a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 16, 2016. Picture taken June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Pastor Evan Mawarire, who launched the movement #ThisFlag, to get Zimbabweans to rally round the national flag and speak out against Mugabe policies, is seen at a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 16, 2016. Picture taken June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

“Let me warn the instigators behind the intended protest that they will face the full wrath of the law,” Chombo told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Harare. He accused some embassies of supporting anti-government demonstrations as part of a “western-sponsored regime change agenda.”

Police earlier arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, 39, on charges of inciting violence after he helped to organize a nationwide strike on July 6. He’ll spend the night in police cells, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda said. Mawarire has repeatedly called for non-violent protests in the southern African nation and has demanded that corrupt ministers be fired and that civil servants be paid their salaries on time. His #ThisFlag movement was one of several groups behind a strike on July 6 that brought much of the country to a halt.

Mawarire came to prominence in April when he draped a Zimbabwean flag over his shoulders and recorded a lament on the state of his nation on YouTube.

Last week’s strike followed a Finance Ministry announcement that it was delaying pay for state workers, including the military, and riots sparked by protests by taxi drivers over alleged police harassment. Police responded by unleashing dogs, firing tear gas and arresting 95 people. Violent clashes also erupted at Zimbabwe’s main border post with South Africa, forcing its closure, when the government banned the import of certain goods.

President Robert Mugabe’s administration has faced a worsening cash shortage in recent months. Since abandoning its own currency in 2009 to end hyperinflation, Zimbabwe has used mainly U.S. dollars, as well as South African rands, euros, and British pounds. The government spends about 83 percent of its revenue on wages, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

Chombo warned against similar protests on Wednesday.

“If you gather your friends and block cars, you will be arrested,” he said. “We want orderliness in this country.

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