#ThisFlag leader, Evan Mawarire’s trial on charges of attempting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government yesterday continued at the High Court, with the State’s key witness making several concessions, which are likely to damage the prosecution’s case.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The trial continued with the State showing four videos in which Mawarire appeared calling for the “shutdown of Zimbabwe” in a bid to force the government to act on corrupt government officials, withdrawal of a statutory instrument, barring the importation of certain goods and denouncing the introduction of bond notes.
However, in all the video footage, watched by Justice Priscilla Chigumba and her assessors, it was noted by Mawarire’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo that his client never at any stage encouraged the Zimbabwean populace to revolt against Mugabe’s government or encouraged them to turn violent, let alone to demonstrate or march along the country’s streets.
This prompted Nkomo to put to task Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga calling him to explain why he, as the investigation officer, decided to charge Mawarire with attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government or in the alternative inciting public violence.
In his response, Runganga said he assumed when Mawarire urged people not to engage in violence, he was simply using a password encouraging his followers to act violently.
“Communication is very tricky, when one says no to violence they would actually be saying engage in violence, using violence as a password. By saying no to violence, you may never know how his followers were coached,” he said.
Asked to name one of Mawarire’s followers, who were coerced to act violently, Runganga said: “His congregants together with other organisations such as Tajamuka . . .”
As the cross-examination continued, Runganga admitted Mawarire never at any stage encouraged people to take over government, act violently or to march along the streets.
“In these videos, you accept he (Mawarire) does not say let us take over the government. In the same videos, he goes on to say, stay at home and no to violence. You also accept he had no control over civil servants neither did he have control over commuter omnibuses?” Nkomo asked and Runganga conceded.
The investigating officer also accepted Mawarire was not at any stage in control of the government, when he urged the civil servants, schoolchildren and other Zimbabweans not to report for work, go to school or close businesses on July 5 and 6 last year.
Nkomo then asked Runganga why he wanted the court to believe “a simple 40-year-old pastor carrying a Bible would have the capacity to take over the government” and in response, Runganga said: “Accused (Mawarire) has influence on social media and on his congregants.
This is how some well-known groups such as Boko Haram started. They were headed by religious leaders.”
Asked if Mawarire had arms of war other than his Bible considering that he was searched and nothing was recovered, Runganga said: “I wouldn’t know.”