Evan Mawarire. Picture: SUPPLIED
Evan Mawarire. Picture: SUPPLIED

Harare — Zimbabwean activist Evan Mawarire, who was arrested last week on subversion charges following deadly antigovernment protests brutally put down by security forces, applied for bail on Friday.

The prosecution opposed his application on grounds that he was likely to abscond.

“If convicted he's likely to stand a long term of imprisonment and that is enough inducement for him to flee,” prosecutor Mirirai Shumba told the high court in Harare.

Mawarire is accused of subverting a constitutionally elected government and incitement to commit violence by posting videos on social media supporting a national strike by trade unions.

His lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara, argued that “there is no propensity or likelihood” for Mawarire to flee.

Judge Tawanda Chitapi said he would hand down his ruling on the bail application on Tuesday.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted last week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices were being doubled in a country suffering regular shortages of fuel, food and medicine.

Furious demonstrators took to the streets in several cities and towns, with widespread rioting and looting.

Several people have died in the ensuing crackdown in which security forces said they arrested more than 1,100 suspects, including leading trade unionists and opposition Movement for Democratic Change legislators and senior figures.

Mawarire, a pastor, became a prominent voice during protests of 2016 when he posted videos on social media criticising the government while wearing a Zimbabwean flag around his neck.

His posts inspired the #ThisFlag movement that led mass protests against Mugabe, who was ousted after a military takeover.

The activist was then arrested on subversion charges, freed on bail and later acquitted after trial.