Shock arrest for Mawarire

HARARE - Activist clergyman and founder of the laudably patriotic #ThisFlag movement, Evan Mawarire, made a surprise return to Zimbabwe yesterday evening, and was immediately arrested by State security agents at Harare International Airport.

Mawarire’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told the Daily News last night that the State had re-instated its previously unsuccessful charges claiming that the preacher was trying to subvert a constitutionally-elected government — for which, if convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

Until his return yesterday, Mawarire had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States of America for six months, following his earlier harassment and the savage clampdown on his movement by panicking authorities.

As news filtered through last night that Mawarire had been arrested, the until-now forgotten

#ThisFlag campaign leader immediately started trending on micro-blogging site Twitter.

And in a video that was posted online yesterday, showing him in handcuffs, he said he had not committed any crime and rallied Zimbabweans to keep their hope up despite the worsening local political and economic rot.

The Baptist Church preacher was hounded out of the country last year after fearful authorities stepped up their crackdown against a restive populace and pro-democracy activists.

After leaving Zimbabwe, he relocated to South Africa before he eventually settled temporarily in the United States. Before then, Mawarire had been arrested on what his lawyers said were trumped up charges that led to his contentious detention allegedly for inciting public violence and stealing a police baton and helmet.

The popular clergyman had helped to organise one of the most successful and peaceful strikes in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe, with long-suffering citizens heeding his call to stay away from work to protest the country’s worsening economic rot.

Dubbed “Shutdown”, the crippling strike forced the panicking Zanu PF government to use excessive force to quell subsequent protests, as Zimbabweans agitated for change.

Mawarire’s arrest yesterday immediately triggered an outpouring of outrage and deep-felt condemnations, as fed up Zimbabweans fulminated over the ever deteriorating democratic space in the country.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC was among the groups which also savaged what it called the government’s “unlawful arrest” of Mawarire.

“The Zanu PF regime is in serious panic mode. The regime is isolated, bankrupt and clueless. They are seeing enemies everywhere where none exist because they know Zimbabweans are hungry and angry,” spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“We are living in a police state where innocent citizens are routinely harassed and arrested on very flimsy and trumped up charges. The rule of law has been discarded and the collapsing and faction-infested Zanu PF regime has become increasingly intolerant and morbidly fascist.

“This is a harbinger of worse things to come as we approach the 2018 elections. There will be even worse human rights transgressions as ... Mugabe and his gang of political thugs throw all caution to the wind. These political malcontents are determined to hold onto power at whatever cost,” an agitated Gutu said.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) director, Okay Machisa, said Mawarire’s arrest was hugely “problematic”, and was also as meant to clamp down on dissent.

“This is a sign of political overzealousness. What is even more worrisome is that State institutions are being used as political tools to squash people’s democratic freedoms which in itself is illegal.

“The fact is Mawarire is acting well within the confines of the law,” Machisa told the Daily News.

Senior researcher for southern Africa at the Human Rights Watch organisation Dewa Mavhinga, also warned that Mawarire’s arrest was likely to see government ratcheting up its clampdown on pro-democracy groups, in the run up to the 2018 national elections.

“There is no justifiable reason why the Zimbabwe government should arrest Mawarire on his return home, as he committed no crime and had been cleared by the courts prior to his departure.

“This is a red flag that the human rights situation remains bad and is a warning to rights groups that nothing has changed. The 2008 political and human rights environment is likely to be the same in 2018.

“The government should immediately release Mawarire and drop all trumped up charges against him,” Mavhinga said.

Peace building civic group, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, also said Mawarire’s arrest was patently illegal.

“Heal Zimbabwe strongly condemns the unlawful arrest of #ThisFlag movement founder ... Mawarire. As soon as he landed, Mawarire was whisked away by plain clothes detectives as his relatives who had come to welcome him back watched in utter shock. ... the infringement of citizens’ rights such as unlawful arrests and detentions are a violation of citizens’ fundamental human rights that are provided for in the Constitution,” its director, Rashid Mahiya, said.

Earlier in the day, Mawarire had told South African media en route to Zimbabwe, that he was feeling restless as he made the journey back to Harare.

“At some point, one has to stop wishing they were home, and actually pack their bags and go home. Zimbabwe is home for me and my family.

“That’s the place where we have a right to be without acquiring a visa. We are citizens of Zimbabwe. The president of Zimbabwe made comments to the effect that I was not welcome in Zimbabwe, but he doesn’t get to make that decision for me.

“I have not committed a crime, I’m not a fugitive, I’m a citizen, and an upstanding citizen for that matter,” Mawarire told South African online portal, Daily Maverick.

Mawarire’s sister, Teldah, had also told another online portal, Huffington Post South Africa, that her brother had left Johannesburg “quietly” earlier yesterday, headed for Harare.

“His flight landed just before 5pm. We understand from his lawyer that he is being held but we have no further information,” Teldah said.

Comments (23)

Pastor, in the bible we always, "These are temptation". Please don't despair, time is coming and God is watching everything. The Robbers and Muggers are evil for they shall not enter heavy. Time is nigh hence they are panicking. The world knows that our good pastor has no case to answer and we know he will be out soon. Look at the old, frail and senile Bob. Remember, he is a Malawian and all that will come to haunt him. Please other Zimbabweans who are bent to tarnish the image of the pastor should just shut. We know that some of you are celebrating and are jealous that one day the pastor will be a leader. Its high time the opposition should rally behind our beloved pastor. They even failed to use social media for protest but Evans managed. As far as l am concerned, it does not matter where the next President or ruler comes from the civic society of opposition. Zimbabweans are tired of the Robbers and Muggers government. Please God hear our prayers. Look at the infrastructure, roads, buildings and everything is damn rotten. Mwari pindirai. Taneta isu varidzi venyika inonzi Zimbabwe. We are tired of ruled by mabwidi from Mozambique and Malawi. Amen.

Clemence Tashaya - 2 February 2017

Dzamara chaakatadza chii? They killed him. Now this one comes back and is wisked away...I have my own Problems with this arrest. The Zanu I know will just deal with you outside cameras, IF you are a threat!! I smell a rat, sorry to say this.

selele - 2 February 2017

Selele you have got a good point, even I was surprised that he was allowed to film a video message whilst in custody. Something does not look right and it is not far fetched to say this man could be a ZanuPF asset. The timing of his return is suspicious to say the least- when it has been confirmed the opposition has finally come to its senses and will unite to deal with Mugabe in 2018.

Jonso - 2 February 2017

I smell a rat why why why did this guy come back ? Here is a skeleme all political parties watch out if you think this guy is a good catch you mighty be infiltrated .Or he is trying to gain some political mileage but this guy and people like Temba Mliswa is same same very dangerous indeed in few weeks he mighty be singing from zanu heme book passopo madoda .

Diibulaanyika - 2 February 2017

the pastor must be locked up,we know that when he is in exile he is of no use to his handlers and the financial traps dry up,now that the pastor is broke he heads home where the state agents unwittingly fall into the trap and arrest him,his arrest will unlock the finances and put the regime change agenda back on the table,the pastor is nothing but a poodle for the west,some zimbos have raised the issues the pastor raised,its nothing new,the govt has already saidits attending to those issues,one such intervention is the bond notes to ease cash shortages,command agriculture is another but its not popular amongst the donor dependent mdc supporters who canot put a decent days work,pastor mawarire this is a constitutionally elected govt,it won overwhelmingly in 2013 and any attempt to subvert it is tantamount to spitting all those who endured long hours to vote for his excellency

truth - 2 February 2017

how quick zrp arrest this guy yet corrupt individuals go scot free...zrp very swift indeed.for the wrong reasons

NERRAW - 2 February 2017

Whats the worst that could happen to him?

SOLO - 2 February 2017

Whats the worst that could happen to him?

SOLO - 2 February 2017

@solo,all those who commit treason must be hanged,that has been the law from time

truth - 2 February 2017

@truth, all pretenders must be hanged. Pretenders who pretend to be professional, arresting innocent citizens while the real culprits are walking scot free.We know those committing real treason, real crimes against Zimbabweans, abducting and killing innocent Zimbabweans, looting resources meant to uptlift lives of innocent Zimbabweans, intimidating innocent Zimbabweans, trumping upon rights of helpless and innocent Zimbabweans, denying innocent Zimbabweans access to affordable health, education, meaningful employment and empowerment, food, love, peace and self security.

DZIMBABWE - 2 February 2017

Exactly @ truth One man inspired a shut down of the country. That speaks volumes as to how people feel about the sickening zanu pf goverment! We need something new.

Young Zimbo - 2 February 2017

he is a CIO

pito - 2 February 2017

Welcome back to your home Pastor Mawirire.

david taylor - 2 February 2017

It's sad they way we Zimbabweans are always conned by politicians or wanna be politicians. It's like we can't read between the lines or we just to innocent to notice that someone is taking us for a ride. This guy is one of them. He is not to be trust. People look closely to they way things happen around him. All of sudden he is back before elections and claims to want to run for public office... come on my fellow country men we have been there before. This road leads no where. This guy is a genuine fake!!!

Anesu - 3 February 2017

the rat called truth must be hanged for supporting a political party that has reduced our standard of living to that of rats!

Sagitarr - 3 February 2017

All those minions and mascots accusing the Pastor are ZANU PF dogs. Why do you accuse someone who is fighting for you. Even some of the faggots posting some comments here are jealous of our Pastor. Hence Mugabe and his Robbers and Muggers will rule Zimbabwe at their own will because some of you are a confunists. What wrong has he done or those posting here are the real CIO of the Robbers and Muggers. Why celebrating for his arrest. To me, it shows that Zimbabwean are cowards as Thomas Mapfumo said it last week. The pastor has done nothing wrong and you find a Zimbabwean who is suffering because of the Robbers and Muggers misrule supporting the arrest of the social activist like our own pastor. It shows how cowardice Zimbos are. Instead of supporting the pastor and you go against him. Even those useless minions posting now are driving in roads full of poleholes and spend less than US 1 a day unless if you are all belong to the Robbers and Muggers. Mugabe and his Robbers and Muggers will die in office because of people like you who are directionless. Support the Pastor. Zimbabweans are good at criticizing one another instead of supporting one another. We are confused as Zimbos hence Mugabe is still ruling because some of us are fools and idiots. Nonsense stop criticising the pastor your idoits and donkeys of Mugabe

Clemence Tashaya - 3 February 2017

Selele said it all. This is a straightforward zanu pf project. If you don't have eyes to see this then shall you be blind forever. Remember the baba jukwa diversion. Just watch the silly video. Since when do police allow you to take videos and selfies. Anyanyoshamisira chii. Were the Dzamaras allowed to take photos. Even the suspicious Mliswa is better. Please if you have brains to believe this is real then you need you head examined.

Head examination - 3 February 2017

@ Clemence, I thought you would prayer for independence, removal of dictators, peace in Zimbabwe etc. Mabwidi aita sei, why do u lose focus nhaiwe. Even God can hardly respond to you prayers. U say Mgabe is a Malawian nhasi, he ruled you for 37 yrs now and you've said nothing. Ziva zvekuudza Jehovha not kuti mabwidi chakuti chakuti. Fight for removal of those guys vauraya nyika shamwari. Chinja maitiro, kufunga kunenge kunokunetsa kana musikana haunganyengi akakubvuma coz u don't know what to say at the right time.

#This Flag - 3 February 2017

#This Flag, l can now see it that you are one of those mabwidi. Go to hell ok and hang yourself on a tomato tree. We need to be ruled by pure Zimbabwean not mabwidi......Look Zhuwao, Mugabe and others from Mutare are from Mozambique. So what the hell are you telling me here brother. Go tell him and his relatives from Malawi to go hell. I have no fear whatever cde......For your information, God is for everyone even for dogs and cats even a lion even for you who is a damn rascal. Zimbos should uniteto remove the Robbers and Muggers including yourself cde. Zim is gone to the dogs. Sorry Ngos

Clemence Tashaya - 3 February 2017

Hey you are right man we want a Zimababwean to take over we are tired of being abused by a son of a migrant From Nyasaland and now they are talking about Munangagwa a Zambian whose whole clan is in Zambia shuwa we need a break no son of a foreign should lead this nation again zimbos to lead zimbos finish and klaa,

Diibulaanyika - 3 February 2017

kkkkkkk so when i become in that seat, i can also uncitizen all those i dont like. Africa!!!! u ugly

uncle Real - 3 February 2017

Its a shame that pple like you still do not know that a Nyasa is in charge in this country and zimbo are tired of this Nyasa everybody mhani is bored

Diibulaanyika - 3 February 2017

Pastor Mawarire is really the voice of the people of Zimbabwe,the government never cared about us and this year we've already started seeing them trying to coax us into voting for them in 2018.we have not forgotten Gukurahundi,we have not forgotten 2008 and we have not forgotten these useless bondnotes they forced down our Mawarire said "ZANU PF you cannot stop your sun from setting"this country is ours.

tashi - 8 February 2017

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