Mugabe's govt hammers protest leaders

THE panicking Zanu PF government yesterday stepped up its crackdown against pro-democracy activists, arresting the leader of the #ThisFlag campaign, Pastor Evan Mawarire, who has played a prominent role over the past few weeks in Zimbabweans’ growing agitation for change.

Mawarire, who is being charged with inciting public violence, is expected to appear in court today — with the serious charge carrying either a hefty fine or a prison term not exceeding 10 years.

“Evan Mawarire is believed to be in possession of a stolen police helmet, baton stick and other subversive material which he used to incite public violence on 6 July and for intended use on 13 July 2016 for public violence,” police said.

And as Mawarire was being arrested, social media went into a frenzy as ordinary Zimbabweans vowed to press ahead with planned stay-aways, while expressing messages of solidarity with the popular Baptist preacher.

Political analysts and opposition political parties told the Daily News last night that Mawarire’s arrest and the “abuse” of the police and intelligence services was meant to instil fear in Zimbabweans, as the country’s economy continues to die and poverty levels increase at an alarming rate.

Mawarire had reported at Harare Central Police at 8:30am in the company of his lawyers, after detectives had ordered him to report to the station. He was immediately hand-cuffed and taken to his church and home where detectives conducted searches.

It was believed that the law enforcement agents were looking for three police baton sticks and a helmet — which they said Mawarire wanted to use to incite public violence.

An emotional Samantha, Mawarire’s wife, said she was worried about him and her children after the police came to search the couple’s house with her husband in handcuffs.

“I can confirm that there was a team of gentlemen and a lady from CID that came with a search warrant and they had my husband in handcuffs and explained that they had arrested him under a certain section of a law, which includes among other things inciting public violence,” she told journalists at the couple’s Avondale home.

“He then requested for his lawyer to be present when they did the search. And so they waited for about 30 minutes and then searched the house. Once they were satisfied that they were done, they then said that their next stop would be to briefly pass by our church premises and offices to do a similar search.

They didn’t take anything. However, I didn’t really pay attention to the time they spent searching as I was in the middle of trying to make sure that the children were okay,” Samantha added.

The arrest triggered outrage as pro-democracy groups and opposition political parties rallied Zimbabweans to break the spirit of fear and pressure Mugabe to act on the country’s worsening rot.

By early yesterday afternoon, a campaign under the hashtag #FreePastorEvan had started trending in the region on Twitter.

“The citizens’ movement he has generated has rattled the government and they have responded in the one way they know, which is to use the force of law, including repressive laws which are in conflict with constitutionally guaranteed rights,” wrote University of Kent law lecturer Alex Magaisa on his blog in the aftermath of Mawarire’s arrest.

“Anyone who has watched Evan Mawarire’s videos knows that he has been expressing his messages responsibly and in a manner that promotes peace and non-violence. He has been careful not to incite violence, but instead, to dissuade people from such conduct,” he added.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC also savaged what it called the government’s unlawful arrest of Mawarire.

“Pastor Evan Mawarire has been consistently calling upon Zimbabweans to engage in peaceful and non-violent resistance to the excesses of the deeply-divided, corrupt and collapsing Zanu PF regime.

“Indeed, it is the constitutional right of every citizen to be able to engage in peaceful and non-violent demonstrations as clearly enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“To this extent, it is wholly uncalled for, and indeed draconian and primitive, for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to arrest Pastor Evan Mawarire for simply calling upon his fellow Zimbabweans to join him in a peaceful and non-violent stay-away,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“The Zanu PF regime has got absolutely no respect for the supreme law of the land. This is a regime that routinely and invariably violates the basic tenets of the Constitution, particularly when it comes to the respect and observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

“As the country’s largest and most popular political party, the MDC-T would like to call upon the Zanu PF regime to immediately release Pastor Evan Mawarire. The man has got no criminal case to answer,” he added.

The smaller MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube said Mawarire’s arrest was “a sign” that Zanu PF was running scared and was resorting to knee-jerk reaction.

“It is again our fear that the harassment, arrests, threats, abductions and attempted abductions are being instigated by the embattled Zanu PF government which will go down in history as the most callous regime that is known for singing prosperity hymns while the majority languish in poverty,’ said party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi.

“The arbitrary arrests and detention of activists under unclear circumstances is a clear sign of fear by the Zanu PF government. The brutal attack on innocent citizens is not a solution for the economic decay but Mugabe’s recipe for disaster,” he added.

At the same time, the government held a security briefing yesterday which was attended by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, as well as his State security, Defence and Information counterparts.

“The western-sponsored regime change agenda has intensified and hostile foreign embassies are involved. We are fully aware of individuals trying to destabilise the country through misrepresenting facts,” Chombo said later while flanked by Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and State Security minister Kembo Mohadi.

But while the government was holding its press briefing, Patson Dzamara, one of the key figures involved in organising this week’s scheduled stay-aways, said there was no going back on the activists’ plans.

“We are aware that Zanu PF is intimidating people from partaking in the stay-away. We are also aware that the people of Zimbabwe are fed up. They are tired of poverty, corruption, leadership failure, oppression and repression.

“The people of Zimbabwe are ready to free themselves and we encourage them to stay at their homes tomorrow (today) the 13th of July and Thursday the 14th of July. We must send a clear message to the evil government of Robert Mugabe that we are sick and tired of them.

“Zimbabweans, they can’t arrest all of us. Let us all stand up and draw a line in the sand for the Zimbabwe we want. We are counting on you,” Dzamara told the Daily News last night.

Zimbabwe has for the past two weeks been on the edge, as its restive populace mounted riots and demonstrations against widening poverty and the government’s ill-conceived polices.

On July 1, the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe was shut down after protests called to remonstrate against an imports ban on basic goods from South Africa turned violent.

Last Monday, further riots rocked Harare as touts and drivers of commuter omnibuses protested against increased police roadblocks on Zimbabwe’s roads.

The situation remains tense as agitated pro-democracy groups and opposition political movements warn that they will roll out more protests until Mugabe either resigns or tackles the myriad problems afflicting Zimbabweans.

Meanwhile, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti — reacting to the arrests of Mawarire and other democracy activists, also called on President Robert Mugabe and “his entire cabal of ministers” to leave office immediately.

“Our message to Robert Mugabe is that 92 years is really old and he must retire with his entire cabal of ministers, including (Finance minister) Patrick Chinamasa.

“We therefore condemn unreservedly the arrest of human rights activists such as Linda Masarira, who is in remand prison after she was denied bail, Promise Mkwananzi and Pastor Evan Mawarire and call for their immediate, unconditional release,” Biti said.

Comments (14)

and what will the spoils of war be?ater burning down warehouses,a ministerial post for mawarire,promise mkhwananzi minister of youth?we know that this is not about the people but some selfish agendas,should the wishes of a few violent urban elites trump the wishes of the majority of zimbos who only yesterday voted for the president resoundingly?staways to criple the economy so as to incite the masses to rise up against the govt,the govt must not abdict its mandate to ensure we the citizens enjoy our right to reject this violent movement sponsored by western embassies

truth - 13 July 2016

Truth...who ever you are you are an idiot like your Robert and all the other idiots in the ruling party. I am sure you are smoking some weird stuff like your ministers Chombo, Mohadi and the lot!!!!!!!!!

garikayi - 13 July 2016

For the endgame, all in the progressive forces team are leaders and followers, it depends on time and situation. You can not stop the endgame by these herd boy tactics. All forces are converging to wash the ZANU PF thugs down the toilet. Watch out!!!!

Zvichapera - 13 July 2016

Still - we shall say that Mugabe must go.

Mugabe must go - 13 July 2016

The so called western people will not give up on Zimbabwe, they tried the opposition every normal minded person should know that MDC was and is still sponsored by the european governments, supported by a string of NGO's who worked alongside the opposition to mobilize people against the Zimbabwe government. The Zimbabwean opposition went around all european countries praying for sanctions hoping to speed up the return of the country to the former colonizers with the opposition fronted as government. The sanctions indeed have caused great suffering but the western sponsored newspapers also went over drive trying to convince people that the government has failed. But now, Opposition has failed, sanctions have failed, NGO's have failed, now they have created this part 4 of ignorant guys faming protests, they will fail too. Its time people embrace the truth and stop bedding with the enemy. We can rebuild our Zimbabwe.

tonderayi - 13 July 2016

It is this zanu pf that has crippled this country through bad policies and selfish agenda using the bush war mantra rendering the once best economy to broken empty case. If pre- 1980 burning of petrol Depot, train bombings, shooting of civilian plane and other acts of sabotage caused an oppressive regime to come to its senses and come to negotiating table then history is about to recycle itself. In any case recycling is the modern way of living and is greatly encouraged. Zanu pf is an oppressive, brutal, rogue regime that is facing an imminent frontier justice from the people. People are fed up with its nonsense and protests by people will escalate. You can't douse fire with flammable substances.

X-MAN IV - 13 July 2016

At last! May God, YHWH, empower Evan Mawarire to see justice and a rebirth of potential so wasted for the past 19 years. May Zimbabwe soon know shalom

Abroad but not extant - 13 July 2016

You zanu pf people and beneficiary of this mafia government stop being hypocrite and look back where you coming from and what you have brought to this once promising nation. You were trained, armed by communist countries, helped by countries who believed in your causes. sanctions imposed to the regime you fought. Your favourite Commander the late Tongogara said in public, that the shoes he was wearing were donated from sweden by people who believed in his cause. Here we are today 36yrs later zanu pf regime is tripple oppressive than smith regime. It is within the rights of the country's population to free themselves from such bondage. Zanu pf government is the enemy of the people and its days are numbered, the writting is on the wall. People have just had enough they can't take the trash any longer.

X-MAN IV - 13 July 2016

@tonderayi,well said man,at least hope is not lost for this country when we have people that think like yu,we can rebuild our country,the lot yu see protesting is bitter that the likes of yours truly were empowered and now run lucrative safari business instead of them who see salvation in the whiteman,those pics of people praying outside the court were not praying to god but to queen elizabeth,they seek sanctions to wreck the economy so that they can work for NGOs and drive luxury 4x4 whilst not delivering any aid to the people,as true sons of zimbabwe we will resist these western machinations,we must be left alone to chart our own destiny and the likes of pastor can go to europe where they can minister to thir white masters

truth - 13 July 2016

@truth and tonderayi , I take offence to the fact that you seem to think that every opposition effort in Zim is sponsored by the west, muchiti hatina kudzidza such that we can see things for ourselves. I personally have nothing against Zanu, I am a born, bred, raised and educated Zanu family member. However being Zanu does not mean that I am blind to the fact that our leadership has lost its way. If you have people like Obert Mpofu, being minister of mines, buying banks and lots of land in Gwanda, Vic falls and Byo and yet you do not investigate the source of his new found wealth. Chombo minister of housing and has a stand on all towns and cities in Zimbabwe and you do not ask questions, zvanzi 15billion yakaenda and there is no inquiry, every corruption case or issue that is investigated relates to small nobody fish because a big boss somewhere haana kupiwa a cut, Zesa , and ZRP and diamond mine cases that no one is investigating. Zanu tingagoida hedu but let us not be blind. I am not an advocate for Zanu to come out of power. I am for the Mugabe (the old man) must go and whoever takes over should address all these issues, otherwise we continue to support the movement. So Zanu should shape up or go home #thisflag #diehardZanu #letMugabegoandrest

B Moyo - 14 July 2016

the feast is ova to bad men, for tomorrow we conquer. the sun is rising and the stupid pharaoh and his jezebel much to the itching of their bloodshot eyes acustomed to darkness. very soon we will drive the last of the bush fighters to the sea!

SaManyiika Chaiye - 14 July 2016

to you Truth and Tonderayi, i say, if you thought education was expensive then try ignorance. it is sad that in this day and age we still have bootylickers like you who have the audacity to come out on public forum like this to talk nonsense. have you no shame? have any of you taken a walk down the streets of harare lately? how many can you count? you cant even start to count them because haupedzi. all those pple vending in the streets are supposed working in the industries, we have corrupt ministers being fingered almost on a daily basis yet nothing is done to bring them to book. you tok rebuilding Zimbabwe under Zanu,how is that possible when we have clear examples of injustice and human rights abuses such as the one we saw conclude last night. effort are being made to silence a man of the cloth who speaks truth and advocates for action to correct those anormalies, yet the perpetrators and fuelers of corruption and regressionare let running scott free because they the high and mighty nonagenarian protecting them. so where is the rebuilding going to come from.. u tok of aid, why should we look for aid when we have the potential to work for ourselves profitably and actually offer aid to other nations? musatinyangadze mhani imi zvimbwasungata..the tym for reckoning shall come..soon....mbwa dzevanhu!

Wauya Mucheki - 14 July 2016

Questions need to be asked why Mawarire has got so much support .We put up posters n bus in pple to Chipadze stadium for our president,we get 3000 n this pastor wth no campaign ,attracts 5000, and he is behind bars.Zanu needs to consider this.Chipadze is in our stronghold.

viola gwena - 14 July 2016

Blaming the miserable state of our economy and country on the mabhunu, British imperialists, American CIA and other racist foreigners is something nobody listens to anymore. Not for a second do I doubt that these foreign Governments and their intelligence services aren't monitoring events with keen interest as are the Asians, Eastern Europeans and everyone else. In some ways it reminds me of the horse races and spectators trying to decide on what horse to back, some place their bet only on one horse, whist others may choose two or even three. And this is precisely what these foreign observers, all of whom want our resources, are doing with all the key players in this dirty game of politics in Zimbabwe. So, yes, @truth they are involved and working in the shadows....but to place blame on them for the state of our country and the rise in tensions that we are currently experiencing shows your bias and immaturity. Must say that you have been extremely loyal to your President, let us hope that he rewards you for your efforts and that you don't eventually end up behind bars like some of those Laurent Bgagbo loyalists did in Cote d'Ivoire?

Mbewa - 14 July 2016

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