By Peter Bolder
- Evan Mawarire (left).
Harare clergyman Evan Mawarire returned to Harare last week after months on the run because his application for political asylum in the United States had failed, sources revealed.
Mawarire’s application failed amid suspicions that he was a Central Intelligence Organisation operative posing as an anti-Mugabe activist. Apparently, Mawarire was found to have abandoned several members of #ThisFlag campaign, who were arrested and tortured after he fled to the US through South Africa in 2016.
Mawarire was on Friday denied bail by a Harare magistrate who deferred his subversion case to February 17. However, intelligence sources confirmed Sunday that Mawarire was linked to Mugabe’s security apparatus and had been planted in the protest movement to destroy the more radical group Tajamuka which seemed to advocate for violence to remove Mugabe. Mawarire claimed ownership of spontaneous violent protests that rocked Zimbabwe in mid-2016 and saw a customs border warehouse being looted and set on fire.
The vocal cleric was arrested at Harare airport Wednesday as he arrived from months of exile in the United States, where he fled in 2016 as state agents pursued him, accusing him of mounting violent demonstrations to overthrow Mugabe.
He was charged for “inciting” people to overthrow a constitutionally elected government, a serious crime which could see him being jailed for more than 20 years if convicted.
Mawarire’s lawyer and fellow anti-government activist under the #ThisFlag hash tag campaign, Fadzai Mahere said the pastor was not guilty of any crime.
“Evan is not the problem,” Mahere said, adding that the political and economic problems which he highlighted were still there.
Apparently, Mawarire became a target after he claimed credit for organising demonstrations and work boycotts which turned violent.
Mawarire applied for political asylum in the US but his request failed amid a tightening of screws on refugees and more thorough vetting by the Donald Trump administration.
State security sources said the authorities suspected Mawarire was linked to radical activist group Tajamuka, which has been endorsed by main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The pastor has rattled the Mugabe government, which has banned public displays of the Zimbabwean flag, a symbol of his social media campaign. Several other activists have been arrested and charged with causing public violence.
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