The US embassy in Harare have issued a statement condemning the arrest of evangelical pastors Evan Mawarire and Phillip Patrick Mugadza, saying that freedom of expression was now under attack in Zimbabwe.
Mawarire was arrested last week at the Harare International Airport on his surprise return to the southern African country after spending six months in self-imposed exile, mostly in the United States. He was subsequently charged with attempting to subvert Mugabe’s constitutionally elected government.
On the other hand, Mugadza continues to be incarcerated following his prophecy that Mugabe would die on October 17 this year.
Spokesperson of the US embassy in Harare, David Mcguire, described the arrest of Mawarire and Mugadza as “unwarranted”.
“The US government unequivocally believes in the basic right of freedom of speech and calls on the government of Zimbabwe to respect the human rights of all Zimbabweans which are enshrined in the constitution. We believe that the basic right of Zimbabweans to freedom of speech – be it in public, through print media or social media – should be protected within and outside Zimbabwe’s borders,” said Mcguire.
For his part, Mugabe recently lambasted some citizens and top officials of his ruling Zanu-PF party for “abusing social media to further their selfish interests”.
The government is now planning to introduce a bill that would criminalise the abuse internet.