#ThisFlag protest leader returns home to Zim – and the slammer

If you don’t accept the basic tenets of freedom of assembly and speech, then it’s easy to see why you’d believe you have an open and shut case of subversion against popular Zimbabwean cleric and activist, Evan Mawarire. Gathering thousands of people together to protest against President Robert Mugabe’s ongoing rule outside the UN General Assembly in New York late last year – with the wily, and wrinkled Uncle Bob actually in the building, must surely be nothing short of treason. Where’s the true patriotism? Just why Mawarire thought he could return home – without getting arrested the moment he got off the plane, (which is exactly what happened on Wednesday), must be the real story. Was it a calculated move to re-ignite what he hopes and prays could be a Zimbabwean Arab Spring, with himself as Martyr-in-Chief? Little chance of that, given that so many millions of his fellow malcontents are now living outside Zimbabwe’s borders, (in South Africa or neighbouring countries), trying to earn some decent money to send home. Or is he the victim of some subtle political trickery where the wily old Fox of the South, lured him home with juicy promises of ‘talks,’ as he has so often with opponents before. Mawarire was responsible for the last-known showing of popular Zimbabwean discontent with the #This Flag movement against corruption and poverty. It was viciously put down and he fled into exile. But he’s now certainly got all eyes on his cause again. Why would a doddery old dictator do business with a known traitor anyway? – Chris Bateman

By Frank Chikowore

Harare – Zimbabwean cleric and activist, Evan Mawarire, was on Thursday charged with attempting to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s constitutionally elected government, according to his lawyer.

Mawarire was arrested on Wednesday at the Harare International Airport on his surprise return to Zimbabwe – after spending several months in self-imposed exile.

#ThisFlag protest leader Evan Mawarire

Mugabe is on record saying that Mawarire was not welcome in his country following protests that were led by the cleric against his rule last year. The nonagenarian accused Mawarire of being foreign-sponsored to destabilise his government.

Mawarire’s attorney Harrison Nkomo said the cleric, who fled the southern African country immediately after being freed by a Harare magistrate, was charged with subversion stemming from protests held in New York by some Zimbabweans against Mugabe during the United Nations General Assembly held in September last year.

Violent protests

“The state is alleging that he (Mawarire) incited people to revolt and overthrow the government between July and December 2016 when he was abroad. He has been charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act,” said Nkomo.

Mawarire’s warned and cautioned statement recorded by the police and seen by News24 said that the pastor circulated several videos on social media platforms in which he allegedly incited Zimbabweans to stage violent protests against Mugabe’s administration.

The statement said that the cleric incited Zimbabweans in the United States and the world over to converge in New York City on September 22, 2016 to confront Mugabe, who was attending the UN General Assembly, and to order him to resign from his position, accusing him of destroying the country.

It remained unclear when Mawarire would be arraigned before a magistrate, although Zimbabwe’s constitution stipulated that an accused person should be brought to court within 48 hours following his or her arrest.

Mawarire became famous after he launched the #ThisFlag movement against state corruption and poverty – which rattled Mugabe and his government to an extent not seen for a number of years. His movement was also instrumental in leading a two-day mass stay-away held in July last year that crippled government business and the entire public transport sector. – News24

Source: http://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/protest-pastor-mawarire-charged-with-subverting-mugabes-govt-20170202