from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE arrest of an independent investigative journalist has been denounced as an example of Zimbabwe’s increasing intolerance toward the press and those who expose corruption allegations about the country’s ruling elite.
Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested on Monday weeks after he uncovered on alleged coronavirus (COVID-19) procurement fraud within the country’s Ministry of Health and Child Care.
It led to the arrest and sacking of health minister Obadiah Moyo earlier this month.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Zimbabwean authorities should immediately release Chin’ono and drop the incitement charges against him.
“Instead of detaining those responsible for stealing public funds, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s security forces would rather employ strong-arm tactics to silence the messenger must be released immediately and allowed to work freely,” Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator, said.
Beatrice Mtetwa, Chin’ono’s lawyer, said that police had arrested her client without a warrant, hence this amounted to an abduction.
Nick Mangwana, the government information ministry spokesperson, has been quoted as justifying the arrest.
He stated no journalist was above the law.
Police released a statement disclosing they had charged Chin’ono with “incitement to participate in public violence.”
Authorities also charged Jacob Ngarivhume, a member of the opposition Transform Zimbabwe party, with incitement.
Ngarivhume has been organising a mass protest against corruption set for later this month (31st July).
Corruption has partly been to blame for Zimbabwe’s economic problems.
Mnangagwa was elected in 2018 with a pledge to eradicate the scourge and revive the economy.
– CAJ News