Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has slammed the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire, the face of Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag protest campaign, who was detained at Harare airport on 1 February as he returned to the country after several months in exile.
The 39-year-old evangelical priest emerged as leader of the #ThisFlag movement encouraging Zimbabwean citizens to protest against corruption, poverty and abuse of office by President Robert Mugabe’s regime, amid fears of “economic collapse” in the nation of almost 16 million.
“The callous arrest in broad daylight of Pastor Evan Mawarire came as no surprise to those of us who have always known that a leopard remains faithful to its spots. This is vintage Zanu-PF (ruling party) and the message coming out of this arrest is that Zanu-PF will go for broke in the campaign ahead of the next election. The world must brace for impunity and violence against the innocent citizens of our country,” Tsvangirai stated.
“What happened at the Harare International Airport yesterday must send a chilling message, particularly to those in the region and in the broader international community who thought Zanu-PF was capable of reform. There cannot be reform without reformers and this impunity is a reflection of the true character of Zanu-PF.”