Know what a button stick is? Just ask an angry Zimbabwean.
In the wake of the arrest of Evan Mawarire on charges of inciting public violence, Zimbabweans have been mocking glaring typos in the state’s case against the popular pastor.
First, the warrant used to search Mawarire’s home in central Harare on Tuesday, hours before a two-day strike to protest government corruption and an import ban was billed to start. The warrant reads: “Evan Mawarire is believed to be in possession of a stolen police helmet, button stick and other subversive material.”
Zimbabwean Twitter erupted.
“We could probably have just bought another buttonstick if y’all hadn’t lost the $15000000000,” said @finally_phineas in a reference to the money from Zimbabwe’s diamonds that’s unaccounted for.
Said @shantee_em8: “All that effort which was put in recovering a “BUTTON” stickand a helmet, just imagine if it was channelled to finding the 15 Billion.”
Zenzele Ndebele of Bulawayo’s Centre for Innovation and Technology said in a tweet: “Am not going to work tomorrow. Am helping the police to look for their helmet and “buttonstick”. #ThisFlag #ZimShutDown2016″.
It was, of course, a baton the police were allegedly looking for. And those with good memories pointed out that police raiding the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in March 2015, shortly after the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara, were also looking for a missing helmet and “baton stick”.
On Tuesday, mock-ups of possible “button sticks” circulated: sticks with a button attached to them. That wasn’t the only mistake that eagle-eyed – and furious – Zimbabweans were quick to latch onto. Instead of government printers, the wording at the top of the warrant read “Governement”.
Tweeted @JayHeckk: “You can’t even spell GOVERNMENT!!? And then moti BUTTON stick??”
Mawarire’s arrest attracted attention from media outlets around the world. But at home in Zimbabwe state media paid it scant attention.
The government-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation – which is loyal to President Robert Mugabe’s government – devoted just two sentences to Mawarire’s arrest in its hour-long evening news bulletin.
Senior Zanu-PF officials were silent about the charges on Twitter. But there was a brusque warning from ruling party MP Psychology Maziwisa that reflects the authorities’ dislike of social media, where growing numbers of Zimbabweans are loud in their condemnation of what’s happening in their country.
Said Maziwisa: “President #Mugabe was elected into power. He will not be tweeted out of power.”