Zimbabwean investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition party leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, are set to remain behind bars after the High Court delayed delivering its judgment.
The pair, who were denied bail by a lower court, face charges of inciting public violence in relation to the convening of anti-corruption protests.
The state argued against the appeal, claiming the reporter and politicians were a flight risk.
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were arrested three weeks ago in Harare.
Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume will wait a few more days before learning their fate. The pair appeared separately in the Zimbabwe High Court to appeal their bail being denied last week.
The state insists that the duo are not good candidates of bail, while the defence argued there was no evidence their clients would abscond.
Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, Beatrice Mtetwa says, “The bail application has been argued. Despite the state only filing its response today, the judge ordered that the matter be heard. It’s been argued. The judge says the matter requires him to write a full judgment that he can only deliver on the 6th Thursday.”
On Friday, at least six known persons were arrested after staging protests in Harare and Bulawayo.
The planned national demonstration was curbed by heavy police presence and strict COVID-19 regulations.
Amnesty International says government is abusing the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext for restricting human rights.
Amnesty International Director Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda says, “What we are seeing in Zimbabwe is an intensification of a crackdown against dissenting voices. The arrest of Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume on 20th July was the crescendo to the crackdown that has been happening in Zimbabwe. We are calling on the Zimbabwean authorities to stop attacking people for protesting. These people were peacefully protesting and were arrested and we have heard some of them were tortured. We are calling on the Zimbabwean to stop.”
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda:
The heavy-handedness and crackdown on alleged dissidents are due to the pressure government is feeling from its citizens.
According to one analyst, the regime recognises its shortcomings but doesn’t have solutions to the myriad of problems facing the country.
Political analyst, Dr Alex Magaisa says, “The government recognises that the people of Zimbabwe are very angry that the people are exacerbated. They want change, but unfortunately, government is unable to deliver that change. What we see is a government that is relying more on coercion, on force, as opposed to reliance on consent, which all democratic governments must do. Unfortunately, government’s reliance on force will come back to bite it in the not-too-distant future.”
Chin’ono and Ngarivhume were arrested based on their tweets promoting the July 31st demonstrations. And ironically, support for the pair and other arrested activists online has grown immensely, spilling outside its borders.
Citizens from neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana are using their social media account to call on the SADC region to investigate the alleged human rights violations.
The chorus from Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram is that Zimbabwean Lives Matter too.
We call for the removal of the Zimbabwean Embassy in SA until they restore the human rights in that country. Failure to do so, we will prevent any official from the Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in SA until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans.✊???
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) August 3, 2020
-Reporting by Ephert Musekiwa and Noma Bolani