Zimbabwe court denies bail to Hopewell Chin’ono for third time

Award-winning journalist charged for role in promoting opposition-organised protests against corruption, ailing economy.

Source: Zimbabwe court denies bail to Hopewell Chin’ono for third time | News | Al Jazeera

Award-winning journalist charged for role in promoting opposition-organised protests against corruption, ailing economy.

Prominent Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has been denied bail for the third time since his arrest last month on charges of inciting violence over anti-government protests.

The 49-year-old has been charged for his role in promoting opposition-organised demonstrations against corruption and a worsening economic crisis under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A government critic, Chin’ono in June had also helped expose a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus-related supplies that later led to the dismissal of the health minister.

Chin’ono, who was arrested from his house in the capital, Harare, on July 20, denies the charges. His two bail applications were previously rejected, and on Monday magistrate Ngoni Nduna threw Chin’ono’s third bail plea out.

Nduna said Chin’ono’s defence team had not presented new facts in the latest application and that the anti-government protests feared by the government could still happen.

“It will be wrong to say [the] 31 July [protest] was a non-event,” he added. “There is a high likelihood that there will be nationwide demonstrations if the applicant is released.”

Justifying the ruling, Nduna said: “He has been advocating for the removal of government from power.”

Chin’ono’s lawyers said they would appeal against the judgement.

The planned demonstrations on July 31 were denounced by Mnangagwa as “an insurrection to overthrow our democratically elected government”, while the police banned them, citing coronavirus restrictions.

Still, some 20 activists held demonstrations in their neighbourhoods, including award-winning author and Booker Prize nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga. They were arrested and have since been freed on bail.

The demonstrations had been called by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, who was also arrested and denied bail last week.

Their arrest and continued detention has led to criticism that Mnangagwa’s government is attempting to muzzle the press and using COVID-19 lockdown to arrest, harass and torture activists. The government denies the accusations.

Chin’ono was ordered back in court on September 1 for a routine remand court appearance. No trial date has been set yet.

The journalist has lost the services of a top lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, after the same magistrate accused her of denigrating the courts and ordered her to stop representing him.

The internationally-acclaimed lawyer has been at the forefront of defending human rights activists for many years.

Is Zimbabwe cracking down on dissent?

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 4
  • comment-avatar
    Fallenz 4 weeks ago

    Nduna is not acting as a judge, but as a political hack in a position of power.  When is it that the judiciary is responsible for protecting a government from criticism and peaceful protests?  Where does the voice of the people become illegal… beside Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela?  Interesting that those nations also claim to have “democratic elections” just as Zim does… and we know it’s only a farce.  For Communism to survive requires a secure single-party system, totalitarian dictatorial government control, and mandates against criticism of the government.  How else could ZANUPF rule be described. 

    Also note that the violence in previous protests has been induced, not by the protestors, but in the government response.  Instead of taking the people’s grievances against government corruption into consideration, instead of investigating and convicting the criminals, violence, imprisonment, and gag-orders are unleashed against the peaceful citizens who do nothing more than desire an honorable government that does not thwart opportunity to live and prosper. 

    Can those who thought they were fighting for freedom, and have supported ZANUPF to remain in power, not see the wicked monster you have created.  Stop trying to justify what you’ve done, see the reality of the result, and start formulating a remedy.  You once called yourself “brave”… now is your opportunity to prove it.  Begin simply by opening your eyes and being honest with yourself.  That might be the bravest thing you’ve ever done in your entire life.  That’s true honor. 

  • comment-avatar
    Mpopota 4 weeks ago

    After loosing his emergency powers Ed has had to rely on bent or intimidated members of the judiciary to continue his opression and rule by fear.

  • comment-avatar
    Saddened 4 weeks ago

    Since 1980 Zanu PF has denied people bail even when the courts have released them people are rearrested and the process starts again. Vile disgusting party unfortunately endemic in African politics

  • comment-avatar
    Dr Ace Mukadota PhD 4 weeks ago

    African political parties have no respect for law courts in most countries in the continent comrades. Since 1980 Zw has had no real law and order – that is one of the reasons why ZW is a failed state.
    Sad but true with what appears no end in sight – ZANUPF still has plenty of voters though so who can forecast where the wounded ZW will go next