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Zimbabwe pastor charged with attempting to overthrow government

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(FILES) This file photo taken on May 19, 2016 shows in Harare shows Zimbabwean cleric Evan Mawarire, wrapped in the Zimbabwean National flag, recording an instalment of his #ThisFlag video series, in which he decries the government's failure to provide basic services and stem economic decline and corruption in the country. Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, one of the organisers of recent protests calling for a change of government, was arrested on July 12, 2016 and charged with inciting public violence, his lawyer said/ AFP PHOTO / Jekesai Njikizana

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 19, 2016 shows in Harare shows Zimbabwean cleric Evan Mawarire, wrapped in the Zimbabwean National flag, recording an instalment of his #ThisFlag video series, in which he decries the government’s failure to provide basic services and stem economic decline and corruption in the country.<br />Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, one of the organisers of recent protests calling for a change of government, was arrested on July 12, 2016 and charged with inciting public violence, his lawyer said/ AFP PHOTO / Jekesai Njikizana

The pastor who has emerged as leader of Zimbabwe’s new protest movement was charged Wednesday with attempting to overthrow the government for his role in a recent surge of demonstrations.

Evan Mawarire, 39, is accused of setting up a campaign with the aim of “overthrowing or attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means,” according to the charge sheet.

He appeared at Harare magistrates’ court with a national flag tied around his neck while about 150 young supporters sang and chanted outside.

Mawarire, who started the popular ThisFlag internet campaign in April, was an organiser of a one-day nationwide strike last week that closed offices, shops, schools and some government departments.

Asked by magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe if he understood the charges against him, he said: “I have understood, your worship.”

A recent series of demonstrations, the largest in years, have been driven by an economic crisis in Zimbabwe that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay its workers.

Veteran President Robert Mugabe, 92, has previously used security forces to crack down on any public show of dissent, and riot police were on duty outside the court.


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1 Comment
  • nana

    Dear Evan, you are very very brave man and I applaud your courage, i just hope these common Zimbabweans would remember your mission when the chips are down and would not abandon you if this court decides to remand you.