Media analysts believe that the arrest of freelance investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and the issuing of a warrant of search and seizure against another prominent journalist, ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu serves as a warning to reporters not to report about high-level corruption.
Both Chin’ono and Mathuthu have reported widely on the Draxgate Affair, a scandal involving the misappropriation of tens of millions of USD by government officials involving a dodgy company, Drax International.
According to Zim Media Review, the two journalists have been targeted to ensure that everyone is scared off reporting on corruption involving government officials. It said in a statement:
It is not a coincidence that two of the journalists that covered the Drax scandal, Hopewell Chin’ono and [Mduduzi] Mathuthu have been targeted.
The authorities are merely retaliating. They’re angry that they were exposed. No journalist is safe if they speak out against corruption.
Chin’ono was arrested nearly two weeks ago on allegations of inciting public violence and is still being held in remand prison.
Mathuthu is now in hiding following a “visit” to his home by police officers on Thursday who were armed with the warrant of search and seizure.
The journalist was accused of being in possession of “material likely to be used during the illegal demonstration and any material used to manufacture any material likely to be used during the demonstration” on 31 July.
Four of Mathuthu’s relatives were arrested, his sister and three nephews, with one of the nephews, Tawanda Muchehiwa severely tortured for two days by his captors.
Mathuthu believes that police intended to find out his sources by seizing his cellular phones, computers and cameras.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, recently said Chin’ono was not arrested for reporting on corruption but for alleged subversion.