President Robert Mugabe has broken his silence on the ongoing protests against his government, saying no, “forever no” to the demonstrations which he alleged were being sponsored by foreign countries.
On July 8, a ‘stay away’ protest movement, led by church minister Evan Mawarire, shut down most businesses, government offices, schools and hospitals in the biggest act of public defiance against Mugabe in a decade.
Mawarire, who rallied followers under his #ThisFlag Twitter campaign, was arrested on Thursday and formally accused of treason but was freed when a court threw out the charges.
Mugabe accused the pastor of urging Zimbabweans to engage in violent protests, questioning whether he was a “true preacher”.
“You cannot urge people to adopt violence, violent demonstrations as the way of life or a way of solving grievances, no,” he said.
“We will say no, forever no.
“The Mawarires, if they do not like to live with us, let them go to those who are sponsoring them and also the countries that are sponsoring them.”
Mugabe’s government has previously accused French and American ambassadors in Harare of supporting Mawarire’s #ThisFlag movement.
However, the diplomats have denied the accusations.
Mawarire, who is currently in South Africa, said his protests are peaceful and are against government corruption, alleged police brutality, delays in paying state workers’ salaries and cash shortages.
Mugabe’s government is reportedly struggling to pay its workers.