Hopewell Chinono Arrest Has Everything To Do With Luke Malaba
3 November 2020
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Paul Nyathi

Hopewell Chinono

Hopewell Chin’ono, journalist and anti-corruption campaigner has has been rearrested for allegedly breaking bail conditions.

Police and state security officials took Chin’ono from his home in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday evening.

His lawyers said he had been charged with contempt of court relating to an alleged breach of bail conditions, an allegation that they described as “nonsense”.

Chin’ono was first arrested in July after publishing a series of investigations into corruption in Zimbabwe. He was held at Chikurubi Prison for six weeks pending trial on charges of inciting violence.

On his release, Chin’ono was effectively banned from using social media for anything that could be seen as critical of the ruling Zanu-PF government.

The new arrest is thought to have been prompted by a tweet sent five days ago suggesting the chief justice of Zimbabwe, Luke Malaba, had intervened to deny Chin’ono bail.

Malaba, who was appointed by the former ruler Robert Mugabe and is seen as a government loyalist, has been the centre of an intense row over judicial independence in Zimbabwe, with judges accusing him of systematic efforts to influence their decisions and restrict their autonomy.

Earlier this year, Malaba was forced to withdraw a directive telling Zimbabwean judges that their judgments needed to be approved before being handed down.

Judges last week complained in an open letter that many “are now so afraid of their own jobs that they consciously and subconsciously make decisions that they consider ‘safe’, even if these do not accord with the law”.