Zimbabwe acquits activist pastor of attempting to overthrow the government

A court in Zimbabwe has cleared activist pastor Evan Mawarire on Nov. 29 of attempting to overthrow former president Robert Mugabe when he called for non-violent protests last year amid the economic crisis in the country at the time.

(REUTERS / Philimon Bulawayo)Activist Pastor Evan Mawarire who is facing charges of attempting to subvert the government arrives at the High Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 29, 2017.

In her ruling on Wednesday, Zimbabwe high court judge Priscilla Chigumba said there was "no evidence" that Pastor Mawarire had pushed for "a violent removal of government." In fact, the activist pastor had urged citizens to gather for peaceful demonstrations in response to their economic situation, The Daily Mail detailed.

Pastor Mawarire rose to fame last year after posting an online video of himself wearing a flag while talking about the problems in Zimbabwe. This sparked the ThisFlag movement which triggered mass protests and prompted authorities to prohibit street protests as well as what they said was an "abuse" of their national flag.

Mawarire's acquittal was announced a week after Mugabe was ousted after almost four decades of rule.

"The whole journey has been absurd ... I should not have been in the dock at all. I should never have had to spend 11 months trying to defend myself from exercising my constitutional rights," Pastor Mawarire told the media after the acquittal.

He added: "One hopes that as our country changes and begins to move forward that things like this should never ever be allowed to happen."

In addition, Mawarire cautioned current President Emmerson Mnangagwa against clamping down on people's rights. Otherwise, he said they would do the same thing that they did to Mugabe.

Meanwhile, residents of Harare observed that their city has been in a state of calm since Mugabe's ouster. Police and the usual road blocks have been missing from the streets, and people have resumed going about their normal businesses, The Telegraph reported.

Tinashe Zhakata, a local resident, said most of the people support the military and agree on Mugabe's ouster. However, he said there could be more violence if the new leadership tries to exclude the rest of the people once again.