Panafrican News Agency

Jailed Zimbabwe investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono finally set free

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - Jailed investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was Wednesday finally granted bail in the sum of ZWL10,000 (US$120.01) by Zimbabwe High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi.

Earlier during the day, opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume of the Transform Zimbabwe party was granted ZWL50,000 (US$600.10) bail by the High Court. However, like Ngarivhume, Chin’ono’s bail came with stringent conditions.

Both Ngarivhume and Chin'ono had been incarcerated since July 26 accused of allegedly inciting violence and wanting to topple Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and government through planned protests that were scheduled for July 31.

“Bail has been granted on ZWL10,000 to be deposited, surrendering the passport and title deeds, to reside at his (Chin’ono’s) given address, not to post anything on his Twitter account or to create another Twitter to be used to incite the holding of mass demonstrations for whatever purpose until the end of his matter,” said human rights lawyer Doug Coltart, just after Chitapi’s ruling.

The reasons behind Chin'ono's arrest have widely been dismissed as a smokescreen by different sectors of society, who claim that the real reason was that the journalist exposed a looting scandal that ended up costing former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo his job.

The revelations implicated the president’s son, Collins Mnangagwa, the son’s business partner Dalesh Nguwaya and the Zimbabwe leader’s trusted bodyguard, Valdano Brown, as being involved in a COVID-19 scandal that prejudiced Treasury of US$60 million.

Thus, allegations are rife that these people were used as proxies for the Zimbabwe President.

“I am convinced I was arrested for exposing corruption and that the President’s office ordered my arrest. When we go to trial, we shall prove that,” said Chin’ono, just outside the gates of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on Wednesday night with Ngarivhume standing next to him.

Describing his incarceration at Chikurubi, Chin’ono said prison was one of the worst prisons, where people were living like they were in a concentration camps with no social distancing despite COVID-19.

“They have no masks, people do not have soap and their relatives are not allowed to visit them because of restrictions put in place by prison authorities.

“What I saw inside there validates what I have been saying that money is being stolen by this government, money that is meant to look after these people like prisoners and people in hospitals,” he said.

The reason behind Ngarivhume's incarceration is for organizing the planned July 31 protests that turned into a national stay away as there was an increased military presence on the ground.

“We are very clear that we are calling for a corrupt-free nation, a society that respects the rule of law. Look here, for 45 days we have been in incarceration for what? It was wrong to even arrest us in the first place. For 45 days they denied us our freedom and this is unacceptable,” Ngarivhume said.

“But, you know what? We have been strengthened... We are not relenting for our call for a corrupt free society so there is no going back, no turning back, our resolve is unshakeable."

He said he and Chin'ono had the will and the power to make sure Zimbabwe becomes a better nation.

  

-0-     PANA     TZ/RA   2Sept2020