Zimbabwean whistle-blower journalist denied bail again

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, centre, was arrested on July 20. AFP/File/Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Award-winning Zimbabwean journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono failed in his second attempt at securing bail Thursday following his arrest on charges of inciting violence more than two weeks ago.

Chin’ono, who helped expose a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies, was arrested at his house in Harare on July 20 by armed police.

He was charged with inciting the public to commit violence for his role in promoting opposition-organised protests against corruption which were slated for the end of July.

Last month a magistrate court rejected Chin’ono’s initial application for bail. He appealed to the High Court, but was kept behind bars.

“I determine that the appellant has failed to demonstrate any misdirections of fact, law or both made by the learned magistrate in the court… as would justify interference with his judgement,” said High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi.

“The appeal is hereby denied.”

Chin’ono, who had been investigating reported corruption linked to government purchases of virus protection gear and test kits, encouraged the public to join the July 31 anti-government demonstrations via Twitter.

The protests were banned and police and soldiers sealed off the roads leading into the city centre.

Around 20 activists who held demonstrations in their neighbourhoods were arrested and have since been freed on bail.

They included internationally acclaimed writer and Booker Prize nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga.

Last month the UN’s high commissioner for human rights warned Zimbabwe against using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to curb political demonstrations.

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