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In Zimbabwe Mugabe denounces 'ThisFlag' protest leader

Mawarire, who is currently visiting South Africa, has avoided criticising Mugabe directly and has repeatedly appealed for Zimbabweans to protest peacefully.

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Mugabe denounces Zimbabwean 'ThisFlag' protest leader play

Mugabe denounces Zimbabwean 'ThisFlag' protest leader

(AFP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday used a funeral address to angrily denounce popular pastor Evan Mawarire, who has become the figurehead of recent anti-government protests.

"I don't even know him... I don't know if he is a man of religion. A man of religion, we would hope, would preach biblical peace," Mugabe told mourners at the funeral of a senior government official.

The public rebuke was Mugabe's first reaction to the "ThisFlag" protest movement that was started by Mawarire and has fuelled a series of rare demonstrations.

Earlier this month, many offices, shops and some government department were closed for a one-day national strike against the country's worsening economic crisis.

Last week hundreds of Mawarire supporters rallied outside a Harare court until he was released when a case of attempting to overthrow the government was dismissed.

Mawarire, who is currently visiting South Africa, has avoided criticising Mugabe directly and has repeatedly appealed for Zimbabweans to protest peacefully.

"You can't urge people to adopt violence... as a way of solving grievances," said Mugabe, 92, who also accused unnamed foreign countries of "sponsoring" Mawarire.

Mugabe, who has previously used his ruthless security forces to crack down on any public show of dissent, warned people to be aware of some preachers

"I don't know whether they are serving God. We spell God G-O-D. They spell GOD in reverse," he told the crowd.

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