Harare – A Zimbabwean pastor who became the figurehead of recent demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s government said on Thursday he was travelling to the US to meet compatriots there and consider his next move.
Evan Mawarire, founder of a protest campaign dubbed “ThisFlag”, was detained last month for allegedly trying to overthrow the state, but a court dropped charges against him.
After his release he travelled to neighbouring South Africa, where he has been living and meeting with fellow Zimbabweans until leaving for the US.
“I am going to the USA. I am meeting some citizens over there…and to take time to think what will be my next move,” Mawarire said in a video message posted on Facebook.
“Our power is in our unity, our power is in the fact that each Zimbabwean has decided to rise up”.
The 39-year-old evangelical priest urged his compatriots to keep holding government to account and not rely on his leadership alone to pressure the government.
He called on Zimbabweans to stand up against “poor governance, corruption, theft of money and mis-governance”.
Mawarire has steered clear of political affiliation and has avoided criticising Mugabe directly, repeatedly appealing for Zimbabweans to protest peacefully.
But Zimbabwe’s veteran leader has publicly denounced the popular pastor.
Earlier this week, Mugabe accused his opponents, including Mawarire, of trying to topple him through protest, “like in the Arab countries”.
The government has also accused western governments of being behind the recent wave of protests against Mugabe’s government.