Mugabe Regime 20 year jail attempt for #ThisFlag Pastor thrown out of court

Faith is the belief in a Higher Power who will shield us against evil. Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire possesses that kind of faith in barrel-loads. Thrown into jail on Tuesday by the increasingly nervous acolytes of President-for-life Robert Mugabe, Mawarire was yesterday set free as a Magistrate threw the State’s case out of court. Mawarire sparked the creation of a movement called #ThisFlag after posting a video on YouTube (embedded below) where he laments the state of his country.  Though consequent postings on FaceBook this humble preacher has inspired hope in a country where abuse of power and economic mismanagement by a political elite has turned the one-time bread basket of Africa into a poverty-ravished disaster. Mugabe, and South Africa’s ruling ANC, may be right when they say an external power has instigated this action for regime change. But they are wrong on its identity. This is not the work of “Western capitalists.”  Given its messenger, a man of God, the power behind #ThisFlag is far more powerful than mere mortals could ever conceive.  – Alec Hogg

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, July 13 (Reuters) – A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday dismissed charges against a religious leader accused of trying to overthrow the government through an internet campaign that inspired rare protests against President Robert Mugabe.

Pastor Evan Mawarire appeared in a packed Harare courtroom draped in the Zimbabwean flag after spending the night in police cells as officers searched his house, church and office.

Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe said prosecutors presented different charges from those read out to Mawarire when he was arrested.

“It’s my finding that the National Prosecuting Authority cannot charge the accused for the first time in court without charges being read out to him,” Chikwekwe told the court.

Mawarire’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo said his client initially faced charges of inciting violence before prosecutors changed the charge to attempting to overthrow the government, which carries up to 20 years in jail in found guilty.

Hundreds of Mawarire’s supporters gathered outside the court, waving the national flag and singing protest songs, as anti-riot police kept a watchful eye.

“We are here in solidarity with a man of the cloth who is standing against a system that has impoverished the citizens of this nation,” Harare resident Pastor Ellard said.

Though Mawarire had called for further “stay at home” protests on Wednesday, queues built up as normal at bus and taxi ranks to ferry people to work, while most businesses were open.

God's Hand

Teachers reported for duty at most public schools, which are conducting mid-year examinations, while nurses and doctors were at work at state-run hospitals.

Mawarire last month posted a video online, that has since gone viral, venting his anger about deteriorating social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe and urging citizens to hold government to account.

“I am angered by the poverty and day to day struggles. The economy is not working and there are no jobs,” Zimbabwean activist Maureen Kademaunga told Reuters.

The preacher’s social media movement has rattled 92-year-old Mugabe’s administration, leading to accusations by the state against Mawarire of inciting public violence.

Anger is rising in Zimbabwe over high unemployment, corruption in government and shortages of money, which has seen people spending hours in bank queues to withdraw their money.

Zimbabwe’s government warned protesters on Tuesday they would face the “full wrath of the law” if they heeded Mawarire’s call, after his #ThisFlag movement organised the biggest anti-government demonstrations in a decade last week.

After his arrest, Mawarire supporters released a pre-recorded video urging Zimbabweans to stage another stay-away protest on Wednesday.

Amnesty International said Mawarire’s arrest was a calculated plan by Zimbabwean authorities to intimidate activists ahead of Wednesday’s protests.

“Instead of suppressing dissenting voices, Zimbabwean authorities should be listening to protesters like Evan Mawarire,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for southern Africa.

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