A pastor in Zimbabwe has been released from prison after being arrested in December for staging a one-man demonstration against President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.
Pastor, Patrick Mugadza, 45, travelled 300 miles to protest outside a luxury hotel in Victoria Falls where Mr Mugabe and 6,000 delegates from his Zanu PF party were holding an annual conference. He silently held up a poster on which he had written: “Mr President, the people are suffering. Proverbs 21:13”
Mr Mugadza, a father of two, was arrested and taken to Victoria Falls Police Station where he was charged with creating a “criminal nuisance” and granted bail of £400, which the pastor could not afford to pay.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights appealed to the court he was eventually freed after 16 days under £40 bail ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Mr Mugadza, who has protested previously against Mr Mugabe’s 35-year rule, said he had “no regrets” about his protest and time in prison.
His trial is due to begin in Victoria Falls on Tuesday. In an interview with New Zimbabwe.com, Mr Mugadza said he shared a police cell with 17 others.
“Being in prison in the first place was a violation of my rights,” he said. “It was not constitutional, but that will not stop me.””If you have seen the historical books when people were taken in for slavery, the way they were being chained and all that. That’s how we were sleeping. It was terrible, and Victoria Falls is very hot,” he said.
The Zanu PF conference is reported to have cost $3 million (£2 million), including the travel costs of all 6,000 delegates.