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#ThisFlag leader Mawarire arrested for ‘praying with students’ at protest

Zimbabwean pastor, Evan Mawarire, has reportedly been arrested at a protest supporting striking University of Zimbabwe medical students. 

Two days after the 36th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence from white minority rule, Zimbabwean pastor and motivational speaker Evan Mawarire shared a video expressing his feelings towards his home country – and inadvertently started an online movement.

In May 2017, just over a year since he became a public figure, Pastor Evan Mawarire stood accused of subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe”. Mawarire, who founded the #ThisFlag social movement, has previously argued that it is President Robert Mugabe’s government that is guilty of bringing the flag into disrepute.

‘Done nothing wrong’
“Why have I been arrested? I’ve done nothing wrong. I encouraged them and we prayed. So I’ve been arrested for praying with students.”

Earlier, Mawarire posted videos of himself on campus addressing dozens of students who shouted and cheered and held up placards.

Mawarire told the students that the recent hike of fees from around $700 per semester to $1500 was “an injustice”.

‘Fees must fall’
“It is an assault on the future of our nation and we as the protecters and owners of that future – we cannot allow it to carry on. So these fees must definitely fall.”

In a statement circulated on social media, University of Zimbabwe Registrar Sergeant Chevo claimed that the students had thrown stones. He called it “behaviour that the University of Zimbabwe cannot tolerate.”

Ordered off campus
All medical students were ordered to leave the campus by lunchtime on Monday, Chevo added.

In the statement, Chevo said that medical students pay $450 for a 15-week semester, and third year students $900 for a 30-week semester.

He said the students could apply for payment plans.

Mawarire is already facing charges of trying to subvert the government over his online activism. His trial is due to begin at the Harare High Court in September. 

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.

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