Zimbabwean pastor arrested after campaigning against Mugabe

A Zimbabwean pastor has been arrested and charged with inciting public violence after leading a campaign against President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Evan Mawarire has championed the #ThisFlag protest movement at the government's handling of the economy. On Tuesday he was summoned by police for questioning ahead of a two-day "stay-at-home" strike. But hours later the #ThisFlag twitter account posted: "Pastor Evan Mawarire is being charged with section 36 for inciting public violence and disturbing peace."

The tweet shared a pre-recorded video where the pastor and protest leader said: "You are watching this video because I have either been arrested or have been abducted. It's a video we had pre-recorded for a day like this one."

He finishes with a rallying cry to his supporters: "Hold this government to account. Never let them get away with anything," he said.

"Remember this flag is our flag, no-one else loves Zimbabwe more than a Zimbabwean."

The arrest is part of a "well-calculated plan" to crush the protests, according to the advocacy group Amnesty International.

Amnesty's Southern Africa deputy director Muleya Mwananyanda said it was an "attempt to suppress the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly" and called on the government to listen to Mawarire.

Pastor Evan Mawarire posted the video of himself with a flag wrapped around his neck under the banner of #ThisFlag.Facebook / Evan Mawarire

Authorities have tried to trace who has been organising recent national shutdowns as it involves several activist groups, including Mawarire's. His accidental movement began when he posted an angry rant at the state of his nation wearing a Zimbabwean flag around his neck. A nationwide trend was sparked around the hashtag #ThisFlag and has led to Mawarire receiving death threats and now arrest.

The country saw its biggest strike action since 2005 last Wednesday and led to a complete shutdown of schools, businesses and shops. Civil servants had not been paid their June salaries but were paid in foreign currency in the wake of the strike.

As well as Mawarire about 300 people were arrested in protests across Zimbabwe after similar protests last week.

This is the original video that sparked the campaign: