By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
31st July movement convenor Jacob Ngarivhume and its spokesperson Job Sikhala have declared that they will not allow detained investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono to be persecuted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Chin’ono’s latest arrest was prompted by a tweet he sent five days ago suggesting Chief Justice Luke Malaba had intervened during his denial of bail for the past two months when he was arrested and charged with allegations of inciting public violence in connection with 31st July protests.
Chin’ono was arrested again yesterday and he is currently detained at Harare Central Police Station.
Chin’ono shared the same cell with the MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala at Zimbabwe’s biggest and most notorious jail, the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
He was also sharing the same jail with Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume when they were being charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests.
Addressing the media in Harare on Wednesday, Ngarivhume and Sikhala said they were not going to allow Chin’ono to be persecuted.
“We will never allow this government to do whatever they want on Hopewell Chin’ono. We are going to closely watch the developments and if we are going to do any action, we are going to make it public and pronounce to you. But we are going to give the judiciary an opportunity.
“He is going to appear in court tomorrow. We are going to be there in our hundreds to go and give one of us solidarity,” a visibly emotional Sikhala said.
Ngarivhume said the 31st July movement was going to be informed by the people of the type of action they were going to take.
“The action that we take is never coming from us as individuals but is informed by what the citizens feel needs to be done appropriately with each matter.
“The citizens have every reason and right to want to see if the citizens speak out against corruption, they are not persecuted. Because if we don’t do something about it, it is not good as citizens.
“So, the people are really going to decide. If they feel that as a next step, we need to do something to get into the streets, we are going to do that,” Ngarivhume said.
Chin’ono who recently exposed alleged corruption involving Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, in the Covidgate scandal was initially arrested on 20 July after being charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
Together with Ngarivhume, they spent 45 day at Chikurubi before being released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
The US Embassy in Harare has since rebuked Mnangagwa’s administration saying the arrest of Chin’ono “raises serious concerns.”
“Reports that authorities have again arrested Hopewell Chin’ono for speaking out against corruption and defending fundamental freedoms raise serious concerns. #EndImpunity,” US Embassy said in a statement on Twitter. Nehanda Radio