Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono took his fight against corruption to the ears of thousands around the world via reggae with a new song entitled Dem Loot.
The reporter, who has been arrested three times in six months for his work challenging the current government, released a short video on Twitter singing against what he said was an endemic rot in Zimbabwe – and it has sparked a flurry of follow up versions under the hashtag #demlootchallenge.
A Zimbabwean journalist has taken his fight to expose corruption in a musical direction. The song, ‘Dem Loot’, became a viral hit with dozens of versions posted online from rap to reggae and more.
The lyrics were written by the investigative reporter Hopewell Chin’ono, who has exposed corruption in government and been arrested three times in six months on charges including “communicating falsehoods”.
Zimbabweans on social media have joined his “challenge” to denounce corruption in their government, which is blamed for, among other things, the collapse of the country’s health system.
Dem Loot (they steal) – an adaptation of Jamaican musician Shabba Ranks’s 90s release “Dem Bow” – garnered 120,000 views in 24 hours on Twitter. Chin’ono’s version laments the lack of prescription drugs in the country’s hospitals and high rates of unemployment and poverty.
The song has been trending on social media, with other Zimbabwean producers and singers, including Austria-based Vusa Mkhaya, joining in the challenge, releasing their own reggae and jazz renditions, and versions using the mbira, the country’s traditional instrument.
According to Transparency International, Zimbabwe loses $2bn (£1.5bn) to corruption annually.
Hopewell Arrested for Exposing Corruption
Chin’ono was released from a maximum security prison after 20 days on allegations of communicating falsehoods, as the Zimbabwe government continued to clamp down on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s critics.
Before the arrest, Chin’ono was on bail on separate charges of inciting violence, after he voiced support for an anti-government protest in July 2020, and on contempt of court charges for claiming corruption within the country’s national prosecution agency.
He is known for exposing corruption by the former health minister, Obadiah Moyo, who was involved in a $60m Covid-19 supplies scandal. Moyo was later dismissed by Mnangagwa.
There are only 21 countries more corrupt than Zimbabwe, according to an international transparency barometer of 179 nations.