MBABANE: Angela Quintal, the Africa Program Coordinator for the Committee to Project Journalist (CPJ) said the government of Zimbabwe has adopted a political strategy used in eSwatini by arresting Hopewell Chin'ono who stand accused of inciting public violence and plotting to overthrow the government.
This comes after Monica Mutsanga, the Zimbabwean Minister of Information disclosed during a press conference that the journalist was not arrested for exposing corruption but for inciting public violence and or influencing citizens to violently overthrow the government.
“He was not arrested for exposing corruption, he was arrested for using his social media account to incite Zimbabweans to violently overthrow the government. The arrest of this two that’s Hopewell and Ngarivhume clearly has nothing to with their anti-corruption stands” said Minister.
But Angela Quintal, the CPJ Africa Program Coordinator when speaking to SABC News on Saturday, said in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the most oppressive government adopted a strategy to undermine press freedom by fabricating criminal charges as a cover-up for the persecution of independent journalists.
“We have seen this happening not only in Zimbabwe and the African continent but elsewhere in the world, the government are cracking down on critics and dissent, they invent anti-State charges to try and justify their actions against those they wish to detain and what happened to Hopewell is a perfect example of that. The facts do speak for themselves considering what the ZANU-PF Spokesman Patrick Chinamasa said just last month, a press conference was called to attack Hopewell, why, because Hopewell has raised concerns and had written about alleged corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 supplies in Zimbabwe” she said.
The CPJ Africa Program Coordinator said it was difficult to believe the Information Minister considering the statement previously made by the ZANU-PF government Spokesperson about Hopewell.
In Eswatini, one of the clear cases that highlights the violation of press freedom is when the police raided the home of Eugene Dube, an investigative journalist and editor of the privately owned Swati Newsweek for writing critical articles about King Mswati, he subsequently fled the country to South Africa after being tortured by a battalion of cops at Nhlangano police station.
Zimbabwean investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono (Samuel Takawira)