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  1. ITV Report

Pastor leading Zimbabwe protests has charges upgraded and faces 20 years behind bars

Pastor Evan Mawarire Credit: Reuters

A pastor who led the biggest protest in Zimbabwe for decades is now facing up to 20 years in prison after charges against him were upgraded.

Evan Mawarire was originally charged with inciting violence but his charges were upgraded to "plotting to bring down an entire government" in court today.

Mawarire, 39, has spearheaded a protest against government corruption using the hashtag #thisflag on social media.

The charge sheet for the pastor Credit: Twitter

Zimbabwe anti-riot police guarded the entrance to Harare magistrate court where protest leader Evan Mawarire appeared.

Thousands of his supporters demonstrated outside the courtoom, singing, waving flags and chanting.

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Why are people protesting?

Robert Mugabe, 92, has led the former British colony since independence in 1980.

Since then it has gone from being one of the continent's most promising economies to being a country mired in economic crisis with a reputation for rights abuses.

Pastor Mawarire is leading protests against corruption and police brutality.

He has demanded the sacking of corrupt ministers, the payment of delayed salaries and the lifting of roadblocks that residents say are used by police to extract bribes.

Robert Mugabe Credit: Reuters

Protests paralysed much of the country last week after Mawarire called for a one-day shutdown.

Zimbabwe's government has warned protesters they will face the "full wrath of the law" if they continue demonstrating against President Robert Mugabe, which have been encouraged by Mawarire.

Supporters gathered outside the courtroom Credit: Reuters
Zimbabwe anti-riot police Credit: Reuters