Top govt official labels journalist Chin’ono “a threat to national security”
In a move that confirms the unwillingness of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime to improve rights to freedom of speech, a top government official has described investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s social media posts as “a threat to national security”.
Chin’ono, an award winning journalist and anti-corruption activist was arrested several times for posting his views and exposing government graft on his widely followed social media handles.
In 2020, he was kept in the country’s most notorious jail, Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for more than six weeks for exposing corruption.
Chief Director of Strategic and Presidential Communications Anywhere Mutambudzi said Chin’ono’s posts were “a threat to national security”.
This was after Chin’ono questioned why the government was failing to service the famous Birchenough Bridge, located 62 km from Chipinge in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe linking Chipinge with Buhera.
In a move presumably aimed at silencing journalists, Mutambudzi responded: “Your output seeks to put a wedge between citizens on one side and the ruling party, government and the state on the other. In summary some of your posts, including their sum total effect, are a threat to national security.”
Chin’ono took no time to notify his followers about the threats saying:
“This is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Director of Information Mutambudzi threatening me as they always do when they lose an argument, or when journalists expose their failures.
“He calls me a “threat to national security,” that is what they say when they are planning trumped up charges against you to silence you as they have done to me three times before, arresting and jailing me for exposing corruption and their failures.
“This is not just meant for me, but it is also meant to intimidate all their legitimate critics, journalists who expose their corruption and failures and opposition politicians.
“He says I am creating a ‘wedge between citizens on one side and the ruling party, government and the state.’ You see, to them the party (Zanu-PF) and the State are the same thing.
“He is not speaking for himself, he got upset with exposing the Birchenough Bridge failure that he revealed what they are planning to do!
“Everything I said is true, but the truth gets you into trouble in Zimbabwe.
Unlike others who have an option, the only thing I know is journalism and making films, and I won’t stop practicing my craft within the confines of the law.
“You know where I live, Dr Mutambudzi,” he said.