Zimbabwean authorities should drop incitement charges against investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
Reports say Chin’ono was arrested on Monday 20th July by police officers ahead of anti government protests planned for the end of this month.
“The journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, has a huge following on Twitter, where he regularly posts about alleged government corruption. He has also been using his account to encourage Zimbabweans to speak out and act against corruption”, says local reports.
Reports further say the journalist had in a tweet alerted the public just before his arrest “they are breaking into my home. Alert the world!” Chin’ono tweeted as police raided his home. His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa revealed that he is detained at a police station in the capital, Harare, but is being denied access to lawyers.
The arrest of Chin’ono has drawn both local and international attention as some say the journalist was abducted rather than arrested following the approach of his arrest.
A tweet by Zim local reads “Tsitsi Dangarembga’s one-woman protest against the arrest of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono earlier today”
The Dutch embassy described his arrest as “part of a worrying trend against free speech in Zimbabwe”.
Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said Chin’ono and an opposition politician, Jacob Ngarivhume, have been charged with “incitement to participate in public violence” and would appear in court soon.
Further reports reveal that in June, Chin’ono said he feared for his life after ruling ZANU-PF party spokesman Patrick Chinamasa accused the journalist of seeking to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa by linking the president’s family to alleged corrupt COVID-19 related contracts.
The secretary General of Zimbabwe union of journalists in a statement said the journalist is being victimized for exposing corruption in government.
The journalist was said to have recently exposed alleged government corruption involving coronavirus supplies in the country.
Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) condemns the arrest of Hopewell Chin’ono, and demand that all charges against him be dropped.
AMDF is calling on Zimbabwean authorities to release Hopewell Chin’ono and drop the incitement charges against him. Journalists must be allowed to carry out their duties without any form of intimidation, harassment or attack, as it is the duty of authorities to protect and guarantee safety of all, especially journalists.