Freed Zim pastor urges Zimbabweans to carry on with shutdown

2016-07-14 11:02
Pastor Evan Mawarire (File, AFP)

Pastor Evan Mawarire (File, AFP)

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Harare - Freed protest pastor Evan Mawarire called on Zimbabweans to step up a stayaway Thursday as a top cabinet minister warned the case against him "remains open".

"We carry on with our stayaway and shutdown," Mawarire told his supporters in a video clip posted to Facebook hours after a Harare magistrate dismissed charges against him, sending Zimbabweans outside the court and online into celebration.

"There is a hope inside you that this country needs and if you don't get involved you are robbing us of that hope," said the #ThisFlag pastor. 

The 39-year-old father-of-two was arrested on Tuesday and eventually charged with trying to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government following a widely-followed national strike last week. 

A strike set for Wednesday and Thursday this week has so far had much less of a following, partly because many civil servants have finally received their wages for last month.

'Matter remains open'

Mugabe's former spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo, who now serves as education minister, hinted on Twitter that the authorities would not drop their pursuit of Mawarire without a fight.

Moyo tweeted: "The particular case is water under the bridge but the matter remains open because the merits were not addressed!"

That was a reference to the fact that Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe said that Mawarire's constitutional rights had been violated because the charge against him had been changed without him being informed. The magistrate did not address the substance of the charges. 

Moyo added: "A legal cause existed between his call for an illegal shutdown of #Zimbabwe & the violence & property damage we saw!" 
Last Wednesday's stay-away was largely peaceful but there were reports of a supermarket being looted in the city of Bulawayo.

The official Herald newspaper, which is loyal to Mugabe, said on Thursday that Mawarire "wanted to attract the attention of African leaders" meeting for an AU summit in Kigali.

Mawarire is a former "child president" of Zimbabwe who runs a far-from-large church in the city. He also works as a master of ceremonies: last year he was MC at the wedding of Moyo's daughter.

Read more on:    evan mawarire  |  jonathan moyo  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe protests

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