After more than a month in prison, multiple court appearances, and fears of Covid-19 infection, prominent Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was granted bail Wednesday.
Mtisi Gift, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said he is being charged with “peddling falsehoods,” adding they are awaiting the full list of charges.
“He is still being detailed and is likely to appear in court Saturday after spending the night in police custody,” Gift told CNN.
Earlier Friday, Chin’ono posted on his Twitter account that police had arrested him at home and wrote that he was being charged with “communicating falsehoods”.
Chin’ono was granted bail in September 2020, after more than a month in prison, multiple court appearances where he was charged with inciting violence in July ahead of a planned anti-government protest – a charge his lawyers deny.
As part of his stringent bail conditions, Chin’ono was banned from social media and was not allowed to leave the capital Harare.
The second arrest took place in November of the same year, where he was arrested for obstruction of justice, as well as demeaning the country’s National Prosecution Authority.
The journalist last year investigated allegations of corruption relating to the procurement of Covid-19 supplies by the health ministry, according to Amnesty International which accused the Zimbabwe government of using state’s security forces to silence critics.
President Mnangagwa later fired the Obadiah Moyo, the health minister at the center of Chin’ono’s reports. A government statement said at the time that Moyo was removed from office for “conduct inappropriate for a government minister.”
Doctors in Zimbabwe routinely complain of inadequate protective equipment in their fight against Covid-19 as cases surge and the country battles a new wave of infections.
After the Christmas holidays, Zimbabwe recorded an increase in Covid-19 infections and deaths, raising fears for an already fragile healthcare system.
The government has urged citizens to adhere to the lockdown, which includes movement restrictions to all but the most essential services.
The reopening of schools has been postponed indefinitely, following a Covid-19 outbreak in schools last term, while shops will only be open until 3 pm daily.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew is also in place to avoid night gatherings and events.