Research for Hopewell Chin’ono interview

You are here:
< Life Notes Main Page

I’m going to interview Hopewell Chin’ono for Nieman reports. This is a follow on from an article I wrote in July about his and Jacob Ngarivhume’s imprisonment and the state of the free press in Zimbabwe.

The challenge with someone who has been interviewed dozens of times is always finding questions that will add something new to the discussion and bring out unexplored bits, otherwise there is no real point in the interview. It would serve media houses well to just share interviews if they are going to ask the very same questions. Anyway, that’s a big hoohaa on it’s own.

Focus. Hopewell.

Mission: Watch and read as many articles about Hopewell’s case and interviews he has done to see what angles have not been explored yet.

 

 


July 8, Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe Health Minister Obediah Moyo sacked amid graft scandal

  • Moyo, accused of illegally awarding multi-million-dollar contract for medical supplies, removed ‘with immediate effect’.
  • Moyo was arrested last month following an investigation by the country’s anti-graft commission. The 66-year-old has been freed on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on July 31.
  • Moyo is facing charges of corruption and criminal abuse of his office over his role in a deal with a United Arab Emirates-based company to supply personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits.
  • To date, Zimbabwe has registered 787 coronavirus cases and nine related deaths.

 

MORE

 


July 8, Bloomberg

Zimbabwe Health Minister Fired Over Virus-Linked Equipment Scam

By Brian Latham

  • Minister Moyo implicated in $60 million scam, prosecutors say
  • The health minister is the second minister fired by Mnangagwa since he came to power in 2017. In August last year, he fired Labor Minister Prisca Mupfumira for corruption after the anti-graft body said she’d misappropriated $94 million from the state’s social security fund.
  • The Anti-Corruption Commission said June 20 that Obadiah Moyo was involved in a $60 million scam to supply health equipment needed to fight the pandemic.
  • A lower court released Moyo on Z$50,000 bail — about $2,000 at the time. Depreciation of the currency means that’s less than $800 now.
  • Moyo had to surrender his passport and must make regular appearances at police stations until he’s scheduled to appear in court July 31. Hasn’t been asked to plead yet.
  • Since March, tens of thousands of people have been arrested for defying movement restrictions or not wearing face masks under an indefinite lockdown, yet many returnees who were put in quarantine have managed to escape from isolation centers. The country had 787 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.
  • Obadiah Moyo was dismissed with immediate effect for “conduct unbecoming a government minister,” according to Secretary to Cabinet Misheck Sibanda late Tuesday.
  • He will be replaced by Amon Murwira.

MORE

 

 


 

July 15, Daily Maverick

Executives fired from Zimbabwe’s top hospitals while health workers’ strike continues

By Fazila Mahomed

  • The government this week fired executives from the top five public hospitals in the country.
  • Last week news broke that Health Minister Obediah Moyo had been sacked for corruption involving Covid-19 funds.
  • Zimbabwe’s Health Services Board (HSB) dismissed chief executives and several directors at state hospitals in the capital, Harare, and the city of Bulawayo in order to improve operational efficiency.
  • Five chief executives, Ernest Manyawu of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Dr. Tinashe Dhobbie of Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, Dr. Enock Mayida of Chitungwiza Central Hospital, Nonhlanhla Ndlovu of United Bulawayo Hospitals, and Leonard Mabhandi of Ingutsheni Psychiatric Hospital, have been relieved of their duties.
  • HSB chairperson, Dr. Paulinus Sikhosana: “We are carrying out a restructuring exercise aimed at restoring and preserving the integrity of our hospitals countrywide. There is a need to improve operational efficiency, accountability, and the effective use of resources in conjunction with our parent ministry.” Big words Dr. Sikhosana, big words.
  • Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president Enock Dongo thinks the dismissal is thin sadza: “Year in, year out, the Ministry of Health has been experiencing strikes by healthcare workers and this is a sign that the structures are not functioning well. Theoretically, the move to dismiss these executives is okay, but it’s practically weak.”
  • Totally agree with this point: “As an association, we recommend urgent restructuring of the entire ministry in a transparent manner for real change. We believe that these positions should be filled by people who are dedicated and committed to spend time at the hospitals, but, as we see now, clinical directors have been appointed in acting capacity and it’s a repetition of the same mistake.”
  • There are shortages of health personnel after at least 32 healthcare workers tested positive for Covid-19. At least 267 staff members from the country’s public hospitals are in self-isolation after being exposed to the virus. At least 13 healthcare workers, 10 of them at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, are said to have been affected.
  • Ministry of Health and Childcare acting secretary, Dr Gibson Mhlanga: “The situation is under control and we are reorganising our personnel to fit into the affected areas, mainly arising from health workers going into self-isolation after being exposed.”
  • Ministry of Health and Childcare: Saturday 11 July was the deadliest day in the fight against Covid-19 in Zimbabwe when five people died and 40 new infections were recorded.

MORE

 


August 25, Al Jazeera

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

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.
  • His two bail applications were previously rejected, and on Monday magistrate Ngoni Nduna threw Chin’ono’s third bail plea out. He 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.
  • The demonstrations had been called by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, who was also arrested and denied bail last week.
  • 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.
  • 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.

MORE

 


September 2, CNN

Prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono granted bail in Zimbabwe – with strict conditions

By Columbus Mavhunga

Harare (CNN) – After more than a month in prison, multiple court appearances, and fears of Covid-19 infection, prominent Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was granted bail Wednesday. Chin’ono is charged with inciting violence ahead of a planned anti-government protest — a charge his lawyers deny. He is banned from social media and is not allowed to leave the capital Harare as part of his stringent bail conditions.

  • The journalist was most recently working on allegations of corruption relating to the procurement of Covid-19 supplies by the health ministry, according to Amnesty International which accused the Zimbabwe government of using state’s security forces to silence critics.
  • Opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who faces similar charges, was also granted bail. The duo were denied bail when first arrested on July 20 and transferred to the Chikurubi maximum security prison, notorious for holding political prisoners.
  • According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), both men were strip-searched and bound in leg chains before being transferred.
  • Zimbabweans have been staging solo protests on social media in recent weeks to challenge human rights abuse in the southern African country.
  • They created a trending hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter following mass arrests of protesters in July and the continuing crackdown on dissent by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. The hashtag has gained momentum with celebrities including rappers, AKA, Ice Cube, actresses Pearl Thusi, and Thandie Newton joining in to call for an end to the human rights abuses in the southern African country.
  • Award-winning author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was arrested during the demonstrations, encouraged her followers to stage online solo protests and carry placards using the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag.
  • Former President of Botswana, Ian Khama also joined the campaign. In a Facebook post, he called on his followers to pray for Zimbabweans as “the situation is deteriorating every day”.
  • When Chin’ono was first denied bail, the United Nations High Commissioner called for an end to the “pattern of intimidation” seen in Zimbabwe, warning that authorities may be using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to “clamp down” on freedom of expression.

MORE

 


September 2, The Guardian

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is freed on bail

By Jason Burke and Nyasha Chingono in Harare

Hopewell Chin’ono, the Zimbabwean journalist held in a high-security prison for almost six weeks pending trial on charges of inciting violence, has been freed on bail.

  • Earlier this week, the journalist’s legal team said Chin’ono had fallen ill and was displaying possible COVID symptoms.
  • At a packed hearing at the high court in Harare on Wednesday, the judge, Tawanda Chitapi, said magistrates had been wrong to refuse bail to Chin’ono after 31 July, the date of planned protests against the government. His co-accused, Jacob Ngarivhume, a political activist, was also freed.
  • Chin’ono has been charged with encouraging violence at the demonstrations. The authorities banned the protest, citing Covid-19 regulations, and deployed the army and riot police to disperse any demonstrators. Chin’ono denies any wrongdoing.
  • Chin’ono has been ordered to deposit $10,000, is prohibited from posting on social media, and must report twice weekly to the police. A date for the trial will be set in two weeks.
  • International concern has grown over the recent crackdown in Zimbabwe, during which between 50 and 100 opposition party officials, writers, labour activists and others have been arrested and often detained.
  • The US, UK, EU and others have condemned the repression. Local clergy also published a scathing open letter accusing the country’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his government of an abuse of power. Images of political detainees being led to court in leg irons have caused outrage.
  • Ngarivhume, the leader of Transform Zimbabwe, said 45 days of detention would not deter him from fighting injustice in Zimbabwe. “Our hope for a new Zimbabwe is renewed every day. We will get there. We dream of a Zimbabwe that respects human rights, that is free of corruption, and a Zimbabwe that respects the rule of law. We will never relent … We will remain strong,”
  • Monica Mutsvangwa, the information minister, told the Guardian that Zimbabwe’s detractors “wave a charge sheet of nebulous and frivolous accusations”.
  • Inflation is running at more than 800%, and basic foodstuffs are often difficult to obtain.

MORE

 


September 2, SABC News

Analysis: Zim journalist Chin’ono and politician Ngarivhume released on bail

  • Jacob Ngarivhume: My spirit is not killed by this incarceration. Aluta continua. We will never stop. Our hope for a new Zimbabwe is renewed and invigorated. We will get there. We dream a Zimbabwe that is free of corruption, a Zimbabwe that respects human rights, and a Zimbabwe that respects the rule of law and we will not relent on that.
  • Moses Nkomo: Outlines Ngarivhume’s bail conditions. ZWD$50,000. Report to police three times a week. Surrender passport. Stay put.
  • Chin’ono still awaiting COVID-19 results. He took the test on Monday.
  • Professor Ibbo Mandaza: I think there was enormous pressure in the background, not least from South Africa itself. I was in court myself for the ruling – the same judge who refused him bail two weeks ago. It’s clear to me that there was no basis at all for having refused him bail in the first instance. So I suspect – I have no evidence – I suspect that there has been enormous pressure by civic bodies at home, the media and in South Africa and also on the part of South Africa’s state and the diplomatic community in general.
  • Mandaza: The sister [ Hopewell’s sister ] was in court. She broke down when he was accorded bail.
  • Did Mandaza just say media freedom is secondary?
  • Mandaza: I don’t think three is any way that any state in the world can control social media.
  • Mandaza: If Hopewell is Inhibited and prohibited from conducting his normal work I haven o doubt as I see already that others will do it on his behalf… It is a self-defeating exercise on the part of any state to try and control social media.

 


September 3, SABC News

Interview with Doug Coltart, Chin’ono’s Lawyer

  • He seems to have come out of prison more resolute than ever to continue his work as a journalist, exposing corruption, in particular now, he seems to be very passionate about the issue of the conditions in our prisons.
  • What are the chances of him getting a fair hearing? It’s a difficult question. I believe there have been a whole array of violations of his fair trial rights… the most significant of which was the disqualification of his lead counsel, Beatrice Mtetwa.
  • The abductions and torture [that have been reported in Zimbabwe] are real. Two of my {inaudible} who were abducted on July 31st and tortured. I interviewed –  I saw their injuries. The persecution of journalists is very real. The persecution of lawyers is very real.
  • Journalists like Mduduzi Mathuthu are still on the run. Some of his nephews were abducted and brutally tortured.
  • Nixon Mpofu too
  • Why do you stay? This is our home. If we don’t stand up and each one of stand up and each one of us play a role in fighting, as you say, for a better Zimbabwe, non-violently, but with determination and resolve. If we don’t do that then we will always have these kinds of human rights abuses happening.

 


September 3, Newzroom Africa

Newzroom Africa’s Cathy Mohlahlana interviews Chin’ono after he was released on bail

  • I’m mentally strong… I guess the idea was to break my spirit and that of my colleague Jacob Ngarivhume
  • Conditions in prison: They were horrible. It was a front-row seat for me as a journalist to see the effects of corruption in my country. The prisoners are fed the traditional stable meal, sadza, with boiled beans or boiled cabbages and nothing else and that’s what they eat 24/7 all year round… People can hardly turn while they are sleeping because they are packed like sardines.
  • There is a COVID outbreak in the prison and prisoners are not being told what’s really happening and when they are found out to have contracted COVID they are isolated. There is no medication. They are only given hot water to drink.
  • Were you physically abused? There was no physical abuse – due to his prominence. Also mentions the prominence of Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume. Govt very careful not to abuse prominent people, but there is violence in prison all the time. Prisoners beaten for the smallest things.
  • Intention of arrest? The legal system was being used to settle a political score. Our arrest, we have concrete information that it {emanated?} from the President’s office.
  • ZANU (PF) held a press conference before my arrest saying I was tarnishing the image of the President and his family because his children were involved in some of the COVID deals.
  • What we sid was that there is so much corruption in Zimbabwe there is need for people to use constitutional avenues that are available to citizens to protest against corruption. We never said that we wanted violence.
  • Is there democracy in Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe, the rule of law has broken down. It’s really difficult to understand how our government on one had intends to attract investors and yet on the other hand uses jack book tactics to try and silence people like myself who are journalists, who are doing their work, who are exposing corruption.
  • I spent 6 weeks in the maximum prison, one of the worst prisons in Zimbabwe, and yet the man that I exposed to have been at the forefront of looting millions of dollars meant for COVID was walking in the streets. Whilst I was in prison the man who stole that money and was at the forefront of public funds was stealing money that was meant to buy masks for prisoners and whilst I was in Chikurubi prison I was shocked because the prisoners did not have masks so what exposed is exactly what I then saw whilst I was in prison. the consequences of what I exposed. So such a regime cannot talk about democracy when it fails to fulfill the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • The correct position, after I read the ruling by Judge Chitapi is that I am allowed to be on social media but I am not allowed to talk about protests or to talk about violence whilst on Twitter so it doesn’t affect me at all because I never advocated or called for violence.
  • Has it crossed your mind to leave? I spent 11 years of my young adult years in Britain and in America and I specifically came back home because I wanted to contribute towards my country’s emancipation because during the Mugabe years we were fighting for freedom and when the current President came into power, Emmerson Mnangagwa, he promised everyone that he was going to do things differently. He’s turned out to be worse than Mugabe. Leaving is capitulation and allowing the bad guys to carry on doing the bad things.
  • I am prepared to die for this cause of fighting corruption.
  • Experience of family? Family members get traumatized. As journalists, we have shock absorbers. My family was worried. Most are out of the country so they relied on the news for updates. This is something I had prepared them for years. I have been doing this for almost two decades now.
  • What can those who support your cause do for you? Put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to respect the rule of law.

 


September 9, eNCA

eNCA Interview

MY TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW

Hopewell, good afternoon. Thank you for your time. How are you doing? It’s been a couple of days since you’ve been released on bail

I am recovering well at home. I came out of prison with a terrible fever. The prison service could not even give me pain killers. That’s how bad the situation is, but I am recovering well at home.

And how was it for you in prison? How were you treated while you were in custody? What was your experience?

The prison service is a reflection of what has become of our country, broken down. We were living in cells meant for 16 people and in my cell we were about 44 people. There is no running water in the prison. There is also a terrible diet. People get fed cornmeal with boiled beans with no cooking oil or anything to come with it. In the evening they get their supper. It’s, again, cornmeal, with boiled cabbages – so the situation is really terrible. I was talking to one of the psychiatrists today and explaining to him what I saw in prison. Last week, just before I was released, a prisoner was killed by another prisoner and they were psychiatric patients and the reason why it happened is because the prison service is failing to provide psychiatric drugs to these patients. That’s how bad it is. It comes down to one thing; corruption, looting of public funds, and the plundering of national resources.

What do you think was the purpose of that experience? what message do you think government was actually trying to send out?

I was arrested just after I exposed the COVID-19 looting scandal where highly ranked government officials, including people who are close to the president, were setting up shelf companies and then getting tenders; inflating prices. For instance, a mask worth 68 cents was being sold for US$24.00. That’s how bad it was. And I was incarcerated after exposing that. So the idea was to instill the fear of God in other journalists, that if you expose corruption and if you involve the president and his family, this is what we will do to you.

What’s your message Hopewell to other Zimbabweans that want to speak out, but they are afraid and they fear that they will be treated the same way that you were treated?

To other Zimbabweans, I say that they must be resolute. This is about the future of not just ourselves as individuals, as Hopewell Chin’ono, but the future of our children and grandchildren. This has been happening for the last 20 years, the plunder of national resources, the looting of public funds and it has gotten to a situation where for the past three months all government hospitals in Zimbabwe are not working and people are dying in their homes quietly. There is a silent genocide taking place. So it’s important for the citizens to stand up for their rights and to ensure that the public funds that are meant to fund public institutions like hospitals are not abused by the ZANU (PF) elite.

To other Zimbabweans, I say that they must be resolute. This is about the future of not just ourselves as individuals, as Hopewell Chin’ono, but the future of our children and grandchildren. This has been happening for the last 20 years, the plunder of national resources, the looting of public funds and it has gotten to a situation where for the past three months all government hospitals in Zimbabwe are not working and people are dying in their homes quietly.

One of the things that your arrest did was put a spotlight on, once again, the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the crackdown on opponents and I would like to hope that that wasn’t in vain and I know Pretoria had sent envoys, we’ve got the ANC arriving last night and it’s another discussion on whether or not they will be able to achieve what they were sent there for, but we have also seen the West speak out against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. But one may argue that we have been here before. What hope do you have of the recent developments, that they will bring about change?

The South Africans have to speak to everybody, to all the stakeholders, opposition parties in Zimbabwe, civil society, the church, because they are all stakeholders to what’s happening and they have been speaking out against the ruthless rule of Emerson Mnangagwa and ZANU (PF). But if the South African government or the ANC is sending envoys to Harare to only speak to ZANU (PF) this is then used as a propaganda tool by ZANU (PF) to say that the ANC or the South African government is engaging only with us and not anybody else and there is no political crisis in Zimbabwe because that is the line that is being maintained in Zimbabwe that there is no political crisis, but how can one say so when people are dying in their homes when there is no medication in hospitals and when the nurses and doctors are not coming to work and they’ve not been doing so for the past three months? There is a huge political crisis in Zimbabwe. It needs all hands on deck. It needs to be resolved…”

There is a huge political crisis in Zimbabwe. It needs all hands on deck. It needs to be resolved…”

 


 

September 13, Financial Times

Chin’ono says international pressure saved him

  • Told the Financial Times that he was repeatedly told by jailers that they were under orders to punish him.
  • “Prison officers said that they were working under instruction . . . guards said they were acting on orders of the president… The only reason I got out is because of unrelenting international pressure . . . they would have thrown the key away.”
  • The detention of Mr Chin’ono, an award-winning investigative journalist, became a symbol of a return to oppression amid rising unrest over corruption and an economic meltdown in the southern African nation. Mr Chin’ono still faces trial.
  • Since March the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association has documented more than 800 alleged human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions, scores of assaults by security agents, and 20 attacks on journalists.
  • South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, the African Union commission, and church groups have added to international pressure on Mr Mnangagwa over the repression.

MORE

About Life Notes

Life Notes is my online notebook; a place to put my digital ‘newspaper’ clippings, bits of my journal, observations, and other stuff all with the ultimate aim of find tools, resources & ideas to help artists thrive.  Read about how it came about here.

Latest Life Notes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up