Blessings Mashaya 8 February 2017
HARARE – The detention of cleric and #ThisFlag campaign leader Evan
Mawarire may trigger mass protests, a respected South African think-tank
has claimed, with local analysts querying the claim.
The Oxford-linked NKC African Economics (NKC) in its latest research
instalment on Zimbabwe said the country’s draconian security establishment
has apparently failed to grasp that protests and demonstrations against
corrupt, undemocratic and oppressive regimes are ignited and sustained by
repression and not quelled by it.
“So the arrest of protest pastor Evan Mawarire last week spells more
trouble for President Robert Mugabe,” the think-tank said.
“Despite some sentiment in Zimbabwe that Mawarire had abandoned his
protest and let his supporters down when he fled the country, his arrest
has once again galvanised support and given voice to anti-Mugabe
“The heavy-handed response of the security establishment is likely to fan
the flames rather than douse them, and several sources in Harare said at
the weekend that his arrest had resulted in resurgence in the protest
movement and that more clashes with security forces could be expected in
the coming weeks.”
But University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said:
“On Mawarire’s arrest, I don’t think it’s going to trigger any protests. I
doubt that. But you never know, protest is something which can come
without notice, but this year, I see things differently.”
Mawarire was arrested last week at the Harare International Airport on his
surprise return to the country after spending six months in self-imposed
exile, mostly in the United States. He was subsequently charged with
attempting to subvert Mugabe’s constitutionally-elected government, public
violence and insulting the national flag.
Unless he wins his bail application at the High Court today, Mawarire
would be at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison until February 17 before he
goes back to court for his routine remand.
According to NKC, the demonstrations momentum will pick up as Zimbabwe
moves towards 2018 general elections.
“This is partly because of the arrest and threats to Mawarire but also
because new elections are now within range as they fall due next year.”`