A Zimbabwean court on Monday denied bail for the third time to Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist who was arrested last month on charges of inciting public violence over anti-government protests.
Chin’ono, used Twitter to support anti-corruption movements and exposed corruption in the government tenders for COVID-19 personal protective equipment. He also criticized President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, president of the Transform Zimbabwe party, were arrested last month when they called for the removal of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party alleging inefficiency in administration. The inflation rate is more than 700 percent, which has led to political tensions across the country. Mnangagwa has been widely criticized for failing to deliver on a promise to revive the economy that was made after a coup removed former president Robert Mugabe in 2017.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna said, “[Chin’ono] has been advocating for the removal of government from power.” The bail application was rejected as it did not present new facts. Nduna also said that there is still a looming threat that the anti-government protests could still occur.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said “[the arrests are] designed to intimidate and send a chilling message to journalists, whistle-blowers and activists who draw attention to matters of public interest in Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe’s foremost investigative journalist was ordered to remain in the country’s maximum security jail yesterday after a judge dismissed his third application for bail.
Hopewell Chin’ono, 49, was arrested more than a month ago shortly after a report into alleged state corruption led to the arrest and sacking of Obadiah Moyo, the health minister.
His detention is being seen as part of an extensive crackdown on dissent by President Mnangagwa’s regime which has sparked international criticism. Mr Chin’ono, who has been shackled for his court appearances, has lost a large amount of weight since his arrest five weeks ago. He is charged with inciting public violence for supporting anti-government protests that were planned for July 31.
Denying him bail, the magistrate, Ngoni Nduna, said he