Police in Zimbabwe have confirmed the arrest of the two men – Chin’ono and Ngarivhume stating that the action was “in connection with allegations of contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with Section 37 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, “incitement to participate in public violence.”
“The duo will appear in court soon and are currently in police custody,” a statement signed by an Assistant Police Commissioner read. It was however dated 21 July 2020 instead of 20th. The statement was shared by Ministry of Information and Publicity on Twitter.
It is now clear that the call for protests on July 31 is the reason for the arrest. Zimbabwe has routinely deployed heavy police presence to scuttle planned protests.
Chin’ono was behind the recent exposé of alleged COVID-19 procurement fraud involving the now sacked Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. Moyo is currently in court facing corruption charges.
A Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono; has been forcibly arrested by state agents on Monday at his house in the capital Harare.
Local media outlets quoted his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa as confirming the early morning raid that led to his arrest. The agents reportedly shattered a glass door before picking him up.
He had in the morning tweeted that security agents were harassing his workers. “They are breaking into my home. Alert the world!” his last tweet as at midday July 20 read.
Hopewell is a strong voice in the area of calling out government corruption and excesses. The police has yet to confirm whether they had arrested him and on what charges specifically.
The arrest has triggered a torrent of social media demands from the diplomatic community, human and press rights groups and Zimbabweans asking for his release.
“Allowing journalists to do their work is vital in the fight against corruption. The arrest of Hopewell today is part of a worrying trend against free speech in Zimbabwe,” the Dutch Embassy posted on Twitter.
The US embassy said it was “deeply concerned” for the welfare of the journalist adding that the work of investigative journalists remained pivotal in the fight against corruption. “Political intimidation of the press has no place in democracies,” they added.
Meanwhile, a lawyers group MISA Zimbabwe confirmed that Chin’ono and an activist Jacob Ngarivhume were at the Harare Central police station adding that no charges had been leveled against them.
The activist who is also leader of Transform Zimbabwe movement had recently announced poor governance protests slated for July 31.