Zimbabwe government’s mouthpiece, The Herald, has made subtle reports indicating impending arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag campaign and Promise Mkwananzi of #Tajamuka, a youthful movement calling urgent action to address economic ills.
Mkwananzi told CNBC Africa that he will hand himself over to the police accompanied by his lawyer.
The state-controlled daily newspaper published an editorial, usually the official voice of the ruling ZANU PF, implicating Mawarire and Mkwananzi of causing social unrest in the country. The two have since denied these allegations.
“Some of the people who might find themselves in trouble include Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag campaign, Promise Mkwananzi of the shadowy Tajamuka/Sesjikile outfit and Sten Zvorwadza of the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe, who have been on a crusade to foment an uprising against the government,” read a warning published in The Herald.
(Read More: Zimbabweans stay at home in protest against economic hardships)
These are two online and offline campaigns that could arguably be credited for the shutdown that the country experienced last Wednesday. The two campaigns have separately warned of more actions next week if the government does not respond to a set of demands that have been laid out.
President Robert Mugabe’s government was left shell shocked after thousands upon thousands of citizens stayed at home as these two campaigns urged citizens to abscond work demonstrating their discontentment with alarming levels of corruption, rights violation and accountability.
Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga urged the International Community and SADC to intervene to save the situation.
“Zimbabwe authorities should guarantee people's constitutional right to freedom of expression and refrain from heavy-handed methods of stifling dissent. It cannot be business as usual, the region and the world is watching. SADC leaders should urgently intervene and press the Zimbabwe government to do the right thing and take the country back from the brink,” he said.
Pastor Evan Mawarire told CNBC Africa that the threats by The Herald would not deter #ThisFlag campaign.
(Read More: From tweets to streets, Zimbabwe social media anger erupts into anti-Mugabe protests)
“It’s intimidation tactics, we have not broken the law and we will continue with what we have been doing,” he said.
Mkwananzi weighed in dismissing the purpoted plot to arrest him.
“They are nonsensical allegations, we will not be intimidated or criminalised by criminals. Our cause is lawful, peaceful and non-violent,” said Mkwananzi.
“If there is any law we have broken, we are happy to hand ourselves over to the police to understand each other. We are law abiding citizens and we refuse to be intimidated or criminalised.”