HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe police armed with AK-47 rifles arrested a prominent activist and pastor on Wednesday, along with scores of others, in a harsh crackdown over protests against dramatic fuel price hikes in the economically shattered country.
As some hungry Harare residents reported being tear-gassed by police when they ventured out for bread, President Emmerson Mnangagwa denounced what he called “wanton violence and cynical destruction.” He noted a right to protest and said he understands the “pain and frustration,” but he appeared to side with authorities who blame the opposition for unrest.
Pastor Evan Mawarire was clutching a Bible when police bundled him into their car in the capital, Harare. He had organized what became nationwide anti-government protests in 2016 against mismanagement and then-President Robert Mugabe’s long stay in power.
“They are alleging that he incited violence through Twitter and other forms of social media in the central business district,” said Beatrice Mtetwa, the pastor’s lawyer.
Eighty-two people appeared in court in Harare on charges of public violence
Armed police officers outside the residence of Evan Mawarire, an activist and pastor who helped mobilize people to protest against the hike in fuel prices, following his arrest in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
The World attention will today focuses on Zimbabwe when the Constitutional Court (Concourt) hears, in a live broadcast, the petition lodged by MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa in his bid to overturn President Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30 harmonised elections.
In the process, the court will ink its own piece of history, as it broadcasts the proceedings live from Mashonganyika Building on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television and radio, which have been granted the rights.
Thabani Moyo, an attorney of the MDC Alliance, says he is ready to file a petition in the Constitutional Court in an effort to nullify presidential election results favoring incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa who got 50.8% of the votes cast compared to Nelson Chamisa’s 44.3%.