Zimbabwe’s investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was released from prison on Wednesday.
He was arrested six weeks ago for inciting public violence for tweeting his support for an anti-government protest. He had reported on alleged COVID-19 procurement fraud- which led to the health minister being sacked and charged with corruption.
I was convinced that I was arrested for exposing corruption and the president’s office ordered my arrest. When we go to trial we shall prove that,” Chin’ono said.
He denounced the conditions in Chikuribi prison, saying that most prisoners don’t have soap and water and that a cell meant for 16 people holds up to 45 prisoners.
He says his detention has made him all the more eager to continue his work.
“I remain strong. In fact, it’s amazing and I was talking to my friend here Jacob (Ngarivhume) some time that if these guys knew the mistake they made by taking us there because we have seen things that we only used to hear about and we were not sure about, but now we know and we can write authoritatively about those things.”
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Opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, an organiser of the foiled protest, was arrested, charged and released at the same time as Chin’ono. He has also been barred from posting on his Twitter account until his case is decided.
Rights groups say he was arrested for exposing corruption.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected in 2018, but despite his promises to reinforce democracy Reporters Without Borders says the page is not turned on his predecessor Robert Mugabe. The group says extremely harsh media laws are still in effect and, when new laws have been adopted, their provisions are just as draconian as those they replaced.
Zimbabwe ranks 126 in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.