Top Zim activist arrested

Activist pastor Evan Mawarire is taken into a vehicle by police outside his home in Harare, Zimbabwe
Activist pastor Evan Mawarire is taken into a vehicle by police outside his home in Harare, Zimbabwe
Image: Reuters

Leading Zimbabwean activist Evan Mawarire was arrested on Wednesday, when he was taken from his house by armed police in a widening crackdown after violent anti-government protests.

The nationwide protests were triggered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement at the weekend that fuel would more than double in price.

Police had been at Evan Mawarire’s property for more than two hours before he was driven away in a bakkie.

“Armed police surrounded his residence this morning,” his sister, Teldah, said.

“He was then taken and we are very concerned.”

Mawarire’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said: “He has been arrested, accused of inciting violence through social media.”

Security forces have shot dead at least five people and wounded 25 others during the crackdown since Monday’s protests, according to Human Rights Watch.

It said security forces responded with live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas after protesters burnt a police station, barricaded roads and looted shops in Harare, Kadoma and Bulawayo.

“Zimbabwe authorities have a duty to maintain security during protests‚ but they need to do that without using excessive force‚” Dewa Mavhinga‚ Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said.

Zimbabwe’s cellphone networks and internet were shut down for the second day on Wednesday.

Mawarire, a pastor, became a voice in 2016 protests when he posted social media videos criticising the government while he wore a Zimbabwean flag around his neck.

The videos inspired the ThisFlag movement that led mass protests countrywide.

The SA government on Wednesday “noted protest action in Zimbabwe” and said it was monitoring the situation.

“Consultations are taking place between diplomats.

“We’re confident measures being taken by the Zimbabwean government will resolve the situation‚” department of international relations and co-operation spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said. –