Dashing all hope …

Media freedom in Zimbabwe has been on a downward spiral since the mid-90s. The Covid-19 health pandemic added another dimension to an already treacherous environment, consequently further restricting independent journalism and making it even more challenging for investigative journalists to do their work of exposing corruption by the state and their beneficiaries.
Zimbabwean journalist/filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono was initially arrested on July 20, 2020, for amplifying media reports on COVID-19 procurement fraud. Following several arrests and detentions the High Court in April 2021 quashed the charges of ‘communicating false information’, saying the law used by police to arrest him no longer existed.

Hopewell relates a story of intense censorship, oppression of independent journalism and an alarming disregard by state operators for the role of the media in society, and citizens’ rights to media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information.

About The Author

Hopewell Rugoho-Chin'ono

Hopewell Rugoho-Chin'ono is a Zimbabwean documentary film maker and journalist. He has worked as ITV News Africa Field Producer and The New York Times Zimbabwe foreign correspondent. In 2020, Hopewell amplified reports on alleged Covid-19 procurement fraud within the health ministry, which led to the arrest and sacking of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. It was President Emmerson Mnangagwa who fired Obadiah in July for "inappropriate conduct" over the USD60 million medicines supply scandal. On July 20, 2020, Hopewell was arrested and charged with inciting public violence. He was freed in September on bail, but arrested again in November 2020 and charged with obstructing justice and contempt of court for a tweet about the court outcome of a gold smuggling scandal. Chin’ono was released on bail on January 27, 2021 after spending three weeks in prison. He expressed concern about the COVID-19 pandemic in the overcrowded Chikurubi Prison and accused the government of harassment for arresting him three times in five months.

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