Political activist arrested for calling Mugabe `dead man walking’

A Zimbabwean activist, Mr Sten Zvorwadza, has been arrested after calling 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe “a dead man walking”.

Lawyers said on Wednesday that the arrest was the latest case of authorities cracking down on dissent.
Zvorwadza, the leader of a street vendor’s union, was charged with insulting or undermining the president in a press interview where he was also quoted as saying that Mugabe was “old” and “day-dreaming”.

Mr Zvorwadza is a prominent anti-Mugabe campaigner who has led several demonstrations calling on the veteran leader to step down.

Zimbabwe’s worsening economy has seen many people resorting to informal street vending due to massive unemployment.

Mr Zvorwadza is yet to appear in court, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) group said.

Authorities have often arrested critics of President Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.

In March, two journalists were arrested over a report that the president, who travels abroad for regular medical treatment, was “in bad shape”.

A pastor was also detained after prophesying that President Mugabe would die on October 17 this year.

Last week police arrested a journalist who reported that President Mugabe’s wife Grace had donated second-hand underwear to supporters.

Despite his advanced age and weakening health, President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has endorsed him as its candidate for the 2018 General Election.

The Africa Review

Zimbabwean cleric and political activist Evan Mawarire pleads not guilty to violence charges

Zimbabwean activist pastor Evan Mawarire pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of misconduct and inciting a crowd to cause violence.

Mawarire — an outspoken opponent of ruling President Robert Mugabe — became popular with his #ThisFlag movement that challenged Mugabe’s government over the economic crisis.

Responding in court after the charges were read out in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, he said: “I plead not guilty.”

Mawarire is jointly charged with his colleague Ocean Chiota. The pair were arrested in June for allegedly addressing medical students who were striking over a hike in fees at the University of Zimbabwe.

The trial will continue on September 28.

Mawarire is also facing separate charges of trying to remove the government, for which he will appear in court on September 25.

Not affiliated with any political party, Mawarire launched the #ThisFlag campaign in early 2016 on social media networks.

The online videos, in which he appears with the Zimbabwean flag in a sling to denounce the living conditions of the population, sparked a wave of strikes and demonstrations across the country.

Last year, supporters shut down major cities and paralysed public transport, prompting the government to ban public protests.

The movement was stamped out by Mugabe, 93, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980.

Fearing for his life, Mawarire fled to South Africa July 2016, and then to the United States.

He was arrested at Harare airport on 1 February this year — the day he returned to Zimbabwe — charged with attempting to sabotage the government, and released on bail.

Mawarire is yet to face trial on that charge.