Zimbabwe activist pastor acquitted of inciting violence

Evan Mawarire (File: AFP)
Evan Mawarire (File: AFP)

Harare - Zimbabwean activist pastor Evan Mawarire said on Friday he had been acquitted of inciting public violence, but he remains on trial for allegedly trying to subvert President Robert Mugabe's government.

The violence charge arose from a June meeting at Zimbabwe's main university where he was addressing student doctors who were on strike over a fees hike.

"I have just been acquitted of charges of inciting public violence and disorderly conduct at the University of Zimbabwe," Mawarire said in a Facebook video post.

"No citizen should ever be afraid of exercising their constitutional right to build Zimbabwe. We march on to a better nation."

An outspoken opponent of Mugabe, Mawarire became popular with his #ThisFlag movement that has challenged Mugabe's government over the economic crisis.

But the 40-year-old cleric is still being prosecuted on charges of trying to remove Mugabe's government in a trial which began at the High Court on Monday.

If he is found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The charges stem from his involvement in organising a crippling strike in July 2016 that shut down major cities and paralysed public transport, prompting the government to ban public protests.

Mawarire's trial opened a day after he was arrested in church for posting a video online that criticised the dire economic situation and showed long queues at petrol stations where supplies are running short.

But two days later, a magistrate ordered his release after the prosecution missed a 48-hour deadline to take him to court.


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