POLICE in Harare yesterday stormed a church service addressed by social activist and #ThisFlag frontman, Evan Mawarire and arrested him over a video posted on Facebook in which he castigates government’s policies and bond notes.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Mawarire, a cleric with His Generation Church, was reportedly arrested in full view of his congregants at the church’s premises in Milton Park.
“Police are here to arrest me as I preach right now, Zimbabwe you shall be free,” he says in another video.
“I need you to continue to pray for me, pray for yourselves, pray for our nation. Our country needs God. I am an innocent man, who has not broken the law or done anything that is wrong.”
In the video, Mawarire said: “The shortages have begun to happen. Things in Zimbabwe have become very urgent. We’ve begun to experience what we experienced in 2008. The shortages have begun to happen. In a normal nation people shouldn’t be panicking at all. We’re supposed to be at peace in our country.”
His lawyer, Harrison Nkomo confirmed the arrest.
“My client has been charged with inciting the public to commit public violence over a Facebook video post on bond notes, which the State is alleging he posted and I am not sure when he will appear in court,” Nkomo said.
Mawarire’s arrest comes as prices of basic commodities skyrocketed against the backdrop of a massive slump in the value of the bond notes against the United States dollar, triggering a three-tier pricing system, as some traders rejected the use of plastic money for transactions.
The arrest also comes when he was due to appear in court today on a separate charge of seeking to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government. On Friday, the US embassy warned the government to respect citizens’ rights, saying they were following Mawarire’s case with keen interest.
“The United States is monitoring the trial of Evan Mawarire and calls for an end to arbitrary arrests and intimidation for political purposes,” the US embassy said in a statement.
Promise Mkwananzi of Tajamuka/Sesjikile yesterday condemned Mawarire’s arrest and called for an anti-bond notes demonstration in Harare this week.
Mawarire is already facing trial for leading anti-government demonstrations and demanding an end to corruption and the economic crises.
Last year, Mawarire was initially charged with treason before the State bungled the case leading to his release by the court. The cleric left the country only to return early this year to face a fresh subversion charge.