Zimbabwe arrests journalist, opposition leader ahead of protests

The US embassy in Harare tweeted about Chin'ono's (not him at the back of the van) arrest saying it was "deeply concerned for his welfare". (File photo)
The US embassy in Harare tweeted about Chin'ono's (not him at the back of the van) arrest saying it was "deeply concerned for his welfare". (File photo)
Image: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

Police in Zimbabwe on Monday arrested an opposition leader and an outspoken journalist ahead of anti-government and anti-graft protests planned for July 31, lawyers said.

The two were arrested separately in Harare in a seemingly coordinated operation.

"We confirm both Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume are at the law and order section at Harare central police station," Rose Hanzi, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told AFP.

"We don't have details yet relating to the allegations," she said, adding that police smashed a glass door to bust into Chin'ono's house.

A video clip recorded at the journalist's house showed the shattered glass door, with his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa saying she had received "an SOS that his home had been surrounded by about eight state security agents. They broke the glass at the door and gained entry."

There was no immediate comment from the police or government on the arrests.

Chin'ono, 49, is an independent award-winning film documentalist who has previously worked for various international news organisations.

He is openly critical of the Harare administration and regularly posts commentary on social media on political and economic developments in the southern African country.

Ngarivhume is president of a small opposition party, Transform Zimbabwe.

He has called on Zimbabweans to protest against state corruption and the deteriorating economic situation on July 31.

The date is the second anniversary of general elections that were tainted by accusations of fraud and were won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A day later troops opened fired on protesters in Harare, killing at least six people, even before the results were announced.

The US embassy in Harare tweeted about Chin'ono's arrest saying it was "deeply concerned for his welfare".

"President @edmnangagwa noted the important role investigative journalists, like @daddyhope, play in shedding light on corruption. Political intimidation of the press has no place in democracies," the embassy tweet said.


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