Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono arrested again

Hopewell Chin'ono

Hopewell Chin'ono is embraced by a supporter after his release on bail from Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare, on September 2, 2020.

Photo credit: Jekesai Njikizana | AFP

Prominent Zimbabwean investigative  journalist Hopewell Chin'ono has been arrested again over his Twitter posts.

The journalist, who spent over 40 days in a Harare maximum security prison after he was arrested in July for allegedly inciting protests through Twitter posts, was on Tuesday  charged with violating his bail conditions.

A High Court judge last month released him on bail on condition that he does not tweet any material that incites protests.

Police said Mr pChin'ono had been re-arrested for tweeting that the country's chief justice was seen leaving the magistrates court on the day his case was being heard.

The journalist was commenting on a letter purportedly penned by Zimbabwean judges complaining about the chief justice's alleged interference in cases involving government  critics.

Paul Nyathi, the police spokesperson said Mr Chin'ono was being charged with "contempt of court and defeating or obstructing the course of justice" over the tweet.

"He used his Twitter account to post messages that impaired the dignity, reputation and authority of the courts," Assistant  Commissioner Nyathi said.

"(Mr) Chin'ono confirmed through his Twitter handle that he is in secret and unlawful communication with members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), an institution that is prosecuting him."

He added: " The real risk being that he is manipulating the process and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

"A corruption investigation has been launched to determine the true nature and extent of collaboration between the suspect and prosecutors in the NPA.

In July, Mr Chin’ono was arrested alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition leader for  their Twitter posts  ahead of protests against corruption.

The protests were thwarted by security forces after the government claimed they were meant  to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mr Ngarivhume was granted $600 bail while  Mr Chin’ono was ordered  to pay $120 for his freedom.

The duo's incarceration was met with global condemnation of President Mnangagwa’s government, which is accused of using the cover of Covid-19 to crush dissent.

A senior leader of the mainstream opposition   MDC Alliance, Job Sikhala  spent over 40 days in a maximum after he was arrested over the protests before he was given bail.

Several activists were also  arrested  for taking part in the protests while others  are still in hiding.

Critics say Mr Chin’ono is being  targeted for exposing corruption in the government's procurement of medical supplies to fight Covid-19.

Another investigative journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, who broke a story about a $60 million dollar Covid-19 drugs procurement scandal that implicated President Mnangagwa's family, remains in hiding after police  raided his home on the eve of the protests.

Police said they were investigating him for his alleged role in organising the July 31 protests.

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