Hopewell Chin'ono

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Hopewell Chin'ono
Hopwell Chin'ono.jpg
Occupation
  • Journalist
  • Filmmaker
Known forPolitical Opinion, Documentaries
Websitefacebook.com/daddyhope

Hopewell Chin'ono is a Zimbabwean journalist and documentary film maker. He has won numerous awards in journalism and has worked in both print and broadcasting journalism. Hopewell did a fellowship at Harvard as part of winning the CNN African journalist of the year.

In July 2020, Chin'ono was arrested and charged with "inciting to commit public violence" for tweets he had posted encouraging Zimbabweans to participate in protests on 31 July 2020. He was denied bail on several court appearances.

Background

Hopewell is an acclaimed award-winning Documentary Film Maker and is an ITV News Africa Field Producer and The New York Times Zimbabwe foreign correspondent. He trained as a journalist at the Zimbabwean Institute of Mass Communications before going to City University's Journalism school in London, England. He obtained a Master of Arts degree in International Journalism and then worked with the BBC World Service as a freelance producer.

In 2003 he returned to Zimbabwe and worked for the BBC as a freelance correspondent.He won a British Government Chevening scholarship to read film at Brunel University, where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Documentary Practice in 2007.

He returned to Zimbabwe again in 2007 and made a multi-award-winning documentary film called Pain in my Heart.The documentary Pain in my Heart won the 2008 CNN African Journalist of the year award,[1]2008 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Award and the Kaiser Family Foundation Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Reporting in Africa after making Pain in my Heart he set up Television International in Zimbabwe, a production house that produced news for ITN and South Africa's e.tv. He has also worked with CNN International as a field producer.

In 2008 he went to the University of Oxford Saïd Business School and was awarded a Fellowship in Leadership. Hopewell is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, the third Zimbabwean journalist of only three Zimbabwean journalists to win the prestigious Fellowship after the late Mark Chavunduka and Geoff Nyarota. In 2009 he was the winner of the US Aid Communication award in Zimbabwe for his HIV and Aids Reporting. In 2010 he was nominated for a Rory Peck television award for his documentary film A Violent Response. A Violent Response was also nominated for a 2010 BANFF World Television Award in Canada.

Hopewell Rugoho-Chin'ono is currently a television producer for UK's ITV News, which is part of the Independent Television News Group and the Zimbabwe Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times. He worked as South Africa's eNCA foreign correspondent and producer in Zimbabwe from February 2008 to April 2014. He is a multi-skilled television journalist who does Correspondence, Producing, Camera and Editing work.

Report on Corruption

Mr Chin'ono's reporting on alleged Covid-19 procurement fraud within the Ministry of Health and Child Care led to the arrest and sacking of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired Mr Moyo earlier this month for "inappropriate conduct" over the $60m (£47.5m) medicines supply scandal. His reports also led to the arrest of Drax International LLC representative Dylish Nguwaya.

Zimbabwe's opposition MDC Alliance party said the state was persecuting a journalist for exposing government corruption.

Arrest

On 20 July, Hopewell Chin'ono live-streamed his arrest before being told to put his phone down. The US embassy called Mr Chin'ono's arrest deeply concerning, while his lawyer called it an abduction. "We're not sure where he has been taken. His helper says they did not produce any warrant when they came to his house," human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said in a video statement. Motioning to a smashed patio door at Mr Chin'ono's home, Ms Mtetwa said eight or so security agents were involved in the raid.[2]

According to Chronicle, Hopewell has been arrested on charges of allegedly inciting public violence. In a statement, National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrest.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe and Hopewell Chin’ono have been arrested in connection with allegations of contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, “incitement to participate in public violence,” he said.[3]

He was moved from Harare Remand Prison on 7 August 2020 to Chikurubi Maximum Prison by Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) officials. His lawyers only came to know of the transfer late on Friday 7 August 2020 after they learnt from independent sources that he and Ngarivhume had been strip searched, shackled in leg irons and eventually moved at night to Chikurubi Maximum Prison. This transfer had not been communicated formally to Chin’ono and Ngarivhume’s legal practitioners beforehand. They are being denied access to food and warm clothes as the pair does not eat sadza for medical reasons but the ZPCS officials told them orders from above are what they are following.[4]

Hopewell Arrested Again

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says journalist Hopewell Chin'ono has been arrested. It is believed the arrest relates to a breach of his bail conditions as they relate to social media use.

Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested at his home in the evening of 3 November 2020. Alex Magaisa said that he was advised that some of the officers claimed to be from the President’s office. One of the officers filmed the arrest. The arrest is allegedly in connection with tweets regarding the conduct of Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

Hopewell has been denied bail on 12 November 2020 after he was arrested for allegedly breaching his bail conditions by tweeting about a gold smuggling scandal.[5]

After his latest arrest, he was charged with contempt of court but prosecutors dropped those charges. He is now accused of attempting to “defeat the course of justice” after he posted comments on Twitter about the National Prosecuting Authority. Chin’ono denied the charges, saying he was being persecuted for exposing corruption in government. Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa ruled that Chin’ono should stay in prison custody while awaiting trial because “the accused person has a propensity to commit offences”. Doug Coltart, one of Chin’ono’s lawyers, said an appeal against the ruling would be made at the High Court.[6]

Justice Tawanda Chitapi ended Hopewell's 17-day detention by granting him bail on 20 November 2020 at the Harare High Court and ordered his release from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Justice Chitapi says it was wrong for Magistrate Gofa to rule that Hopewell has a propensity to commit offences.

Court Grants Chin'ono access to food

In a ruling on an urgent chamber application by ZLHR challenging conditions of detention at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, the High Court of Zimbabwe gave a ruling in favour of Chin’ono and activist Jacob Ngarivhume, saying the two should be “allowed visits by their lawyers and doctors, and to confer with both in private”.

Since their arrest on July 20, ZPCS authorities have denied the two men unsupervised visits, and the High Court judge granted the application filed by ZLHR challenging the suspension of their section 50 rights as stipulated by Zimbabwe’s Constitution. ZPCS was ordered to comply with the Constitution which lays out the rights of everyone who is detained. The state of prisons in Zimbabwe has been an issue of public scrutiny due to deteriorating hygiene standards.[7]

Court Orders Cancellation of her Practicing Certificate

Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna has ruled that prominent Human Rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa stands down from representing award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin'ono. He also directed that the Law Society of Zimbabwe should cancel her license for scandalising the court.

The prosecutor had made an application calling for Swaziland born Mtetwa to step down from the trial because she was using a social media page called Beatrice Mtetwa and the rule of law to post court proceedings.

Mtetwa is accused of contempt due to comments posted on a Facebook page associated with her. The State prosecutor said that Mtetwa must have taken corrective action against people running the “Beatrice Mtetwa and The Rule of Law” Facebook page, when she realised that they were denigrating the courts. He further alleged that Mtetwa’s conduct was “unethical and unprofessional” by failing to act on information produced under her name that denigrated the courts.

Mtetwa, however, submitted that the application to remove her from Chin’ono’s case is sui generis, meaning it has no legal basis, because the prosecutor relied on “obiter” remarks made by a High Court judge.[7]

Commenting on the judgment, senior journalist Brezh Malaba said, "With respect, the magistrate is overplaying his hand here. Beatrice Mtetwa is an internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer. She's a fearless defender of politically persecuted Zimbabweans. This ruling raises serious questions about the state of the justice delivery system."[8]

Chin'ono has chosen Taona Nyamakura to be his lead defence lawyer.

Bail Application

Hopewell was denied bail on 24 July 2020 by Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna and remanded in custody to 7 August 2020. The refusal of bail follows a pattern, and will see lawyers for the two men now having to apply for bail at the Harare High Court.[9]

On 2 September 2020 High Court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi granted ZWL$10 000 bail to journalist Hopewell Chin'ono.[10]

Health Scare

On 31 August 2020, Hopewell Chin'ono advised his lawyer Douglas Coltart that he was not feeling well. He has been suffering from a headache, fever and distorted taste.[11]

References

  1. [1], Zimbabwe journalist wins CNN award , Published: 23 July 2008, Retrieved: 14 December 2017
  2. [2], BBC News, Published: 20 July, 2020, Accessed: 20 July, 2020
  3. [3], The Chronicle, Published: 20 July, 2020, Accessed: 20 July, 2020
  4. [4], VOA Zimbabwe, Published: 10 August, 2020, Accessed: 10 August, 2020
  5. [5], EyewitnessNews, Published: 12 November, 2020, Accessed: 12 November, 2020
  6. MacDonald Dzirutwe, [6], Reuters, Published: 12 November, 2020, Accessed: 12 November, 2020
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fazila Mahomed, [7], Daily Maverick, Published: 17 August, 2020, Accessed: 18 August, 2020
  8. Mandla Ndlovu, [8], Bulawayo 24 News, Published: 18 August, 2020, Accessed: 18 August, 2020
  9. [9], Eyewitness News, Published: 24 July, 2020, Accessed: 25 July, 2020
  10. [10], Human Rights Forum, Published: 2 September, 2020, Accessed: 2 September, 2020
  11. [11], Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Published: 31 August, 2020, Accessed: 1 September, 2020