Yesterday, Zimbabwe’s High Court freed prominent activist and pastor Evan Mawarire on US$300 bail after a week in prison. Mawarire’s arrest on February 1 at Harare International Airport after he returned from six months in the United States caused an outcry from local and international rights groups. However, the sham charges against him – subverting a constitutional government, which carries a 20-year prison sentence, inciting public violence, and insulting the national flag – remain, and are reportedly being investigated.
It’s clear that the authorities are abusing the law to persecute Mawarire for his role as leader of the #ThisFlag campaign, which led protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government and called on authorities to address rights problems and a failing economy.
Zimbabwe’s authorities should stop their judicial harassment of Mawarire and drop the sham charges. Like all citizens, he should be free to speak out against injustice and corruption without fear of reprisals.