The trial for Zimbabwe pastor Evan Mawarire has commenced, as he is facing charges of subversion that carry a maximum sentence of twenty years on conviction. Even if acquitted he could soon be on trial again.
Pastor Evan Mawarire has been vocal in Zimbabwe lambasting the government's misrule, with his influence mainly stemming from the power of social media. The cleric started voicing out his anti-government opinions early last year, opinions that have been construed by the government in Zimbabwe as meant to incite public violence in order to overthrow a constitutionally-elected government.
The clergyman started his movement #ThisFlag on social media which gained a lot of sympathisers who voiced similar opinions on how Robert Mugabe's government had destroyed the economy of the nation and the gross violation of human rights. Through his movement via social media, he was able to stage a successful stay-away as a means to protest against the injustices of the government of Zimbabwe, which is seen as very repressive and oppressive. The stay-away was one of the biggest protests Zimbabwe has ever had in a decade.
It was this that made the State to respond using draconian means. He was arrested last year but was freed by a Harare magistrate and immediately after that he fled to the United States with his family. He was arrested when he landed back in Zimbabwe and that is when the charges surfaced. He has been arrested again, for subversion. He was arrested by the police as soon as he finished delivering his sermon at his church. The police accused him of circulating social media posts that accused the government of wrecking the economy. the clergyman pleaded not guilty to two charges of subverting the government and two charges of inciting public violence. The latter carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
The regime seems keen on repressing Evan Mawarire once and for all, and by doing so sending a message to the rest of Zimbabweans on the dreadful repercussions that await them if they try to follow the same path. Zimbabwe's economy continues to take an irretrievable nosedive and the government is not giving heed to the opinions of the rest of the citizens. The cash crisis is far from over, and things are only getting worse.
Meanwhile, the United States has warned that the government must leave Evan Mawarire. The United States has urged Zimbabwe to end arbitrary arrests and intimidation of political players as the country braces for the trial of prominent preacher Evan Mawarire for alleged treason. "The United States is monitoring the trial of Pastor Evan Mawarire, and calls for an end to arbitrary arrests and intimidation for political purposes," the US embassy said in Harare yesterday.
It is obvious that these calls will simply fall on deaf ears as the regime is intent on making the clergyman suffer for his freedom of expression.