ThisFlag leader Evan Mawarire has petitioned the High Court, seeking to be granted bail pending trial on charges of trying to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Mawarire is being charged with contravening section 22(2) (a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (subverting a constitutional government) or in the alternative being charged with inciting the public to commit public violence as envisaged in section 187(1) (b) as read with section 36(1) (a) of the Code.
But in his application, which is set to be heard today, the cleric maintained his innocence, challenging the State to prove if his utterances were in any way close to inciting violence or an attempt to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
“I aver that there is no State case from the papers. The main offence in question is only committed if an accused person, acting in or outside Zimbabwe (a) organises, or sets up, or advocates, or suggests the organisation or setting up of a group or body (b) for the purposes of coercing or attempting to coerce the government,” Mawarire said.
The cleric said from the facts alleged by the State in the form 242 and its annexure, no group or body was organised, set up, advocated to be set up, suggested to be set up by him “with the aim that the group or body coerces or attempts to coerce the government”.
“I aver that to peacefully challenge that the government should address the economic challenges is permissible under section 67(2) (a) of the Constitution. The same applies to a demand that the government pays workers in United States dollars and the allied request for government to remove the bond notes.”
He added: “I aver that as the transcribed video shows, I was specific that people ought to stay at their homes, that participation in the stayaway shall be peaceful and that citizens keep praying for the nation. That cannot by any stretch, be characterised to be incitement to commit public violence as envisaged in the alternative charge in section 187(1) (b) as read with section 36(1) (a) of the Code.”
Mawarire said the State had failed to establish compelling reasons justifying his continued detention, adding his release on bail on reasonable conditions would be in the interest of the administration of justice.
Responding to allegations that he would abscond if granted bail, Mawarire said: “This is just an unsubstantiated averment. If I had committed such a serious offence, I could have absconded a long time ago. There is no evidence that I have a predisposition to abscond.”
In another matter, nine other Harare residents who are also facing charges of public violence for allegedly blocking the road at Coca-Cola bus stop along Seke Road and Cripps Road in Graniteside, have petitioned the High Court for bail.
It is the State case that the group, including others who are still at large, burnt tyres, wooden pellets and threw stones at the motoring public and during the course of the demonstration, they damaged vehicles and assaulted members of the public, forcing them to join them.