By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has come out in full denial it was targeting journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume for fighting high level corruption in power corridors.
Addressing the media Saturday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the two were being prosecuted for inciting a revolt against the under-fire Zanu PF administration.
Mutsvangwa also voiced condemnation over the amount of pressure that has been directed towards Zimbabwean authorities by western embassies over the two’s arrests.
Chin’ono is a whistle blowing journalist who has used his social media handles to report on alleged corruption by Mnangagwa, family and close associates while Ngarivhume is organiser of the anti-government protests planned for July 31.
The two’s arrests last Monday have sparked both national and international uproar amid accusations they were being persecuted over their stance on corruption.
They have both been denied bail in two separate Harare courts.
Unsettled by the wide covering given to the matter, government has moved to clarify its position, insisting the two have landed into the hands of the law for inciting an uprising.
“The begging question is why call for a violent uprising in the midst of a raging and ravaging Covid-19?” Mutsvangwa said.
She insisted Chin’ono was not the first journalist to write profusely about corruption with his colleagues spared for doing their job.
“Even though Hopewell Chin’ono writes about corruption, he is not unique in this regard.
“All the newspapers in Zimbabwe, including independent publications have written extensively about corruption in government and private sector.
“None of the journalists who have written about the subject of corruption have been arrested for publishing the same.
“This is because the government and the President of Zimbabwe acknowledge and appreciate the role the media plays in the investigation and exposition of corruption.”
Mutsvangwa said claims of persecution against Chin’ono were “deliberately calculated to mislead and manufacture a false narrative which brings into question His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sincerity in fighting corruption both in government and private sector”.
She added, “Since coming into office as leader of the New Dispensation, His Excellency President Mnangagwa has provided a favourable working environment for media practitioners to conduct their business unfettered.
“The President has consistently shown his unflinching commitment to fighting corruption by setting up a robust legal infrastructure to fight this economic scourge.
“He has also spearheaded the funding of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) as a way of capacitating it to deliver on its constitutional mandate.”
Mutsvangwa said the Zimbabwean government was disturbed by the alleged involvement of foreign countries and diplomats in “this plot to instigate an illegal regime change in the country”.
“Within minutes of the arrival of the police at Mr. Chin’ono’s home, the US embassy was already all over this issue which is between a sovereign country and its citizen, by tweeting and trying to bring pressure to bear on the Zimbabwean government, so it would not enforce the law of the land. Its particular interest in this one person is curious in the least,” she said.
“Other Western embassies who usually take the USA’s lead joined in this irregular interference by tweeting and releasing statements which were calculated to obstruct the course of justice in a hosting country.
“Even after Zimbabwe’s Independent Judiciary had issued its verdict on the duo’s bail application, a senior member of the US Administration issued a very derogatory and undiplomatic statement against the Government of Zimbabwe, showing condescending disrespect to a sovereign country.”