Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The trial of This Flag Campaign leader Evan Mawarire on allegations of attempting to overthrow President Mugabe unlawfully opened yesterday at the High Court, with the activist denying the charges.
Mawarire attended the trial from police custody where he was being held on fresh charges following his arrest at the weekend. High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba granted him bail in respect of the old case for which he is being tried, but he remained under police custody pending appearance at the magistrate’s court for the fresh charges.
He was ordered to report once every week at Avondale Police Station and to continue staying at his given address pending finalisation of the case. He was warned against interfering with State witnesses. Justice Chigumba ordered Mawarire to surrender title deeds to his parents’ plot in Kwekwe as surety.
Mawarire, who was represented by Mr Harrison Nkomo and Mr Garikai Mhishi of Mhishi Legal Practice, pleaded not guilty to charges of subverting a constitutional government and alternatively, inciting people to commit public violence.
In his defence outline, he argued that the particulars of the first charge of subverting a constitutional Government did not disclose any offence and that he should be found not guilty. Mawarire denied neither attempting to overthrow the Government nor inciting violence, saying he was simply expressing his views through the campaign.
“He shall deny that he neither wanted to remove the current Government by unconstitutional means nor incited the public to commit violence,” read the defence outline.
“He shall tell the court that all he did was to express his thoughts in a lawful manner. He shall challenge the State to place before the court any evidence which exhibits criminal conduct on his part.” The trial was yesterday adjourned to allow the defence team to watch video clips which form the basis of the State’s allegations. The trial continues today with witnesses testifying.
Mawarire was arrested at the Harare International Airport in February this year on his return from the United States and appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
He was denied bail, but High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri later freed him. It is the State’s case that between July 13 and December last year, Mawarire used the print and electronic media to incite Zimbabweans to revolt against the constitutionally elected-Government.
He allegedly urged people not to go to work, but engage in violent demonstrations. It is further alleged that on September 15, 2016, Mawarire called on US-based Zimbabweans to converge in New York and confront President Mugabe, who was attending the United Nations General Assembly. He urged people to embarrass President Mugabe and call for his immediate resignation, the State alleged.