Harare, Zimbabwe (News of the South)-A Zimbabwean clergyman famed for leading some anti-government protests in recent months on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges of plotting to overthrow the country’s long time ruler, President Robert Mugabe’s government.

 

Pastor Evan Mawarire of His Generation Church pleaded not guilty to charges of subverting constitutional government when his trial commenced before High Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

 

“I plead not guilty my Lady,” was Mawarire’s response after the Judge asked how he pleads to the charges of plotting to unseat Mugabe’s administration.

 

Mawarire, the leader of #ThisFlag movement and who is represented by Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights was arrested in July 2016 and in January 2017 and charged with subverting the constitutional government.

 

If convicted of subverting the constitutional government, Pastor Mawarire is liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years without the option of a fine.

 

Meanwhile, Mawarire remains in police custody as he is likely to appear in court on Tuesday morning for initial remand on the same charge of subverting the constitutional government. He was arrested on Sunday while attending a church service in the capital, Harare.

 

Police officers, who arrested him on Sunday claim that the clergyman incited Zimbabweans to overthrow Mugabe’s government after he allegedly circulated a video on social media on Saturday protesting against the country’s agonising economic crisis.

 

Over the past week, Zimbabweans witnessed an unprecedented worsening of its decades-old political and economic crisis after acute shortages of basic foodstuffs returned to haunt the troubled southern African country, while fuel shortages and queues once again resumed with the currency crisis worsening.

 

Critics blame the crisis on Mugabe’s administration while the nonagenarian leader blames the opposition political parties and western governments for imposing sanctions on his administration, a charge which they deny.

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