Published On: Wed, Jul 13th, 2016

Government showing desperation by arresting Mawarire: MDCs

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The two MDC parties have blasted government for civil rights activist Evan Mawarire’s Tuesday arrest which the Amnesty International has described as an elaborate ploy by the state to suppress growing dissent among Zimbabweans.

The #ThisFlag campaigner, who is also a Baptist cleric, was Tuesday locked up for allegedly inciting public violence. This followed his relentless calls for Zimbabweans to keep away from their workplaces for this Wednesday and Thursday as a way of registering their discontent for poor leadership under President Robert Mugabe and his regime.

He was appeared in court Wednesday morning. During his arrest, Mawarire suffered the ignominy of being led to his Harare home and church office in handcuffs as police tried to piece together what they hoped could link the clergy to any acts of sabotage against the state.

Following the widely condemned incident, which followed similar dragnet arrests on more than 300 Zimbabweans for alleged involvement in violent protests, the MDC formations took a swipe at the apparent harassment of activists.

The Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC “unreservedly and strenuously” condemned police for allegedly showing disregard to the national constitution which provide for people’s freedoms to engage in non-violent demonstrations against whoever they felt they should direct their grievances.

“To this extent, therefore,” party spokesperson Obert Gutu said in a statement, “it is wholly uncalled for, and indeed draconian and primitive, for the ZRP to arrest Pastor Evan Mawarire for simply calling upon his fellow Zimbabweans to join him in a peaceful and non-violent stay away.

“The Zanu PF regime has got absolutely no respect for the supreme law of the land. This is a regime that routinely and invariably violates the basic tenets of the Constitution, particularly when it comes to the respect and observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

The MDC-T demanded the unconditional release of the pastor whom it insisted committed no offence. Similarly, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC said it was “irked” by the arrest and detention of activists and even children under unclear circumstances.

“In our honest view the arrest of Cde Promise Mkwananzi (#Tajamuka leader), Pastor Evan Mawarire and others is a serious violation of the national constitution by the regime,” said party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi in a statement.

“It is again our fear that the harassment, arrests, threats, abductions and attempted abductions are being instigated by the embattled Zanu PF government which will go down in history as the most callous  regime that is known for singing prosperity hymns while the majority languish in poverty.

“…The arbitrary arrests and detention of activists under unclear circumstances is politically motivated and a clear sign of fear by the Zanu PF government.”

MDC said the brutal attack on innocent citizens was not the solution for the country’s recurrent economic turmoil which it blames on President Mugabe’s failed leadership. Meanwhile, Amnesty International condemned the arrests.

“The arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire appears to be a well calculated plan to intimidate him and other activists ahead of the national shutdown organised for tomorrow in an attempt to supress the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

Amnesty International said instead of suppressing dissenting voices, Zimbabwean authorities should be listening to protesters like Evan Mawarire.

“They have a right under Zimbabwe’s constitution and international treaties ratified by Zimbabwe to express themselves, peacefully protest and defend their rights,” it said.