HARARE, Zimbabwe

A journalist in Zimbabwe known for exposing corruption during the novel coronavirus pandemic was denied bail on Friday amid fears he would incite street protests on July 31.

Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested Monday but only charged Wednesday for inciting public violence, with his bail plea hindered by curfew orders as court staff adjourned early on Wednesday and Thursday.

Chin’ono’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, expressed dismay over this development.

“There is nothing that Hopewell has done including twitting, that is wrong, even if any of you here journalists wears a mask written #ZANUPFMUSTGO, that’s not a crime,” said Mtetwa.

“I am convinced they are persecuting him for exposing corruption,” she added.

Tendai Biti, another lawyer and deputy leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), slammed the bail judgement.

“For someone who was in court following the proceedings, it is surprising the court has denied Hopewell bail,

“Everything is pointing to fact that government is persecuting him for the exposure of massive looting,” Biti said.

Following the exposure involving $60 million of personal protective equipment that implicated President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family, the government arrested and fired Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.

Meanwhile, leader of opposition group Transform Zimbabwe Jacob Ngarivhume was also denied bail on Thursday. Ngarivhume, along with Chin’ono, called for protests on July 31 against corruption and economic decay.

He is facing similar charges as Chin of inciting public violence.

Separately, Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba, who is facing corruption and abuse of office charges in a land scandal in the capital, has also been denied bail.

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