Freelance journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono has refuted claims by George Charamba -the presidential spokesperson – that he spied and sold some civic members to the government.
Charamba recently wrote on Twitter alleging that Chin’ono had worked with ZANU PF and the government.
In a recent interview with The NewsHawks, Chin’ono, however, dismissed the allegations saying they were not true. Below are excerpts from the interview.
NH: President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba alleges that you wanted to work with the government, doing some public relations work in the aftermath of the 1 August 2018 shootings. Is this true and can you tell us what was going on?
HC: That is not true. I was never interested in working for the Mnangagwa regime.
What actually happened is that there is a gentleman called Kalaa Mpinga who is a Congolese businessman who owned Freda Rebecca and Bindura Nickel.
He called me when he was in the United States after the August 1 shootings and said “there is a lot of bad news from Zimbabwe, what is going on?” I explained to him that people had been killed, beaten up and that there are reports of abductions and rapes in the townships.
He then said ok because this is bad, it is going to be very difficult for this new government to raise any capital if they are behaving like that or perceived to be behaving like that. He then said that he was going to call Vice-President Chiwenga and the President. He then called me after having talked to Chiwenga and said the Vice-President had said the reports of the abductions and beatings were not true.
I then said to him that there were reports which had been made and that people cannot make reports which are false.
He then said what do you mean by reports, I then told him that there are organisations that look after people who have been beaten and they are making reports which cannot be false.
He then said “Ok I am coming to Zimbabwe and the Vice-President has asked me to come and see him”.
He then asked me to accompany him to see Chiwenga, I then said if he thinks it will help stop the violence I am happy to accompany him.
He flew into Harare and then took me to see the Vice-President. When we got there, he raised the issue and said this gentleman is a journalist and he told me and. I then explained to Chiwenga what I had told Kalaa.
The Vice-President then said it is not true and that people are faking things, “we are even talking to people in the MDC and Zvidzai was even at my farm so it cannot be true”.
I then told him that these reports were true and available, he then said how do we get the reports? I then told him that the embassies had released the reports and you can talk to British embassy, the EU and the CSU which is an organisation which looks after people who have been victims of violence and gives them medical care. Chiwenga then said how do we do this? I then said why don’t you call them so that they come and discuss with you.
NH: I guess that is where he alleges that you sold out people like Dr Lovemore and that you gave out his number. Can you explain what happened there?
HC: There was no selling out. I called Dr Lovemore and I said I am going to this meeting and I will let you know how it goes.
The British embassy knew the meeting was taking place a day before, Yvonne Gonzalez from the American embassy came to talk to me the night before the meeting because I had explained to them that a businessman is taking me to see the Vice-President about issues of violence and what are the issues you want me to say other than the fact that this (the violence) is happening.
I had that meeting with Gonzalez here in my house, Peter McFallen, who was the deputy Australian ambassador, came to me the day before and explained to me their disquiet about the violence that was taking place. So what he is saying about people selling out is a lie. People actually knew the meeting was going to take place the day before including Dr Lovemore.
Asked on reports that some say he supported Mnangagwa before the 2018 elections, Chin’ono said he never supported Mnangagwa but was open to giving him a chance
He added that he changed his mind when Mnangagwa indicated that he was not different from his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
More: The NewsHawks