By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Beatrice Mtetwa has claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was instituting persecution of human rights lawyers after the Magistrate Court on Tuesday banned her from representing incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna removed Mtetwa from representing Chin’ono who is charged for allegedly inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
She was replaced by Advocate Taona Nyamakora.
State prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi last week made an application asking Nduna not to give Mtetwa audience in Chin’ono arguing that she was posting comments on the Facebook page, Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law.
Mtetwa had however said she was not on Facebook and had no social media accounts.
Addressing the media at Rotten Row Magistrate Court in Harare, Tuesday Mtetwa said Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration had vowed to prosecute lawyers and doctors at the beginning of the year.
She cried foul over the court decision to deny Chin’ono the right to legal representation of a choice.
“I think all of you heard at the beginning of the year we will deal with the lawyers and doctors, they started dealing with the lawyers.
“For me, doing what they are doing, obviously it has a chilling effect on other lawyers particularly the younger lawyers. The idea is to say to human right defenders, you defend a certain type of, we will be after you. It is not a coincidence that there is an order that says I must be prosecuted.
“When that order is coming from the court that is carrying the case, there will be chilling effects that young lawyers will be prosecuted for doing their work. If you’re young and you’re 30, you cannot afford to be prosecuted.
“I’m over 60, I can be prosecuted towards the end of my career. The intention is to stop us from defending a certain type of client.
“We are going to challenge the decision because we don’t agree with it in a whole lot of respect but it means the right to legal representation has been severely curtailed by the courts which are actually supposed to be expanding that right,” Mtetwa said.
Chin’ono bail hearing has already started in camera.
Chin’ono played a key role in exposing Mnangagwa, his son Collins and his wife Auxilia in massive allegations of corruption, the US$60m Drax Covidgate scandal.
The fallout saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. But Chin’ono was also arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume.
They were charged for inciting violence, in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.