Zimbabwean investigative reporter and human rights advocate Hopewell Chin’ono has urged African journalists to unite and steadfastly document press freedom violations in the continent.
While making a keynote speech at the inaugural two-day African Media Festival on Wednesday in Nairobi, Chin’ono said rallying behind each other was the only way to overcome violations.
“It is important for you to know my story. It is important for me to know your story, we shouldn’t just write for our local audiences but also regional audiences,” observed Chin’ono.
“Governments don’t want other countries to be talking about these issues, and my problem is not just my problem; it becomes your problem one day if we don’t stand together,”
In a nation where few people dare to protest, the 52-year-old has witnessed and experienced some of the worst human rights violations in Zimbabwe but has remained steadfast.
“The tool of choice in Zimbabwe to people like me is humiliation. When I was arrested, I was made to move from prison, going to court in handcuffs; I was made to wear dirty khaki uniform, which was torn. Some of the officers openly admitted that their bosses had instructed them to humiliate me,” Chin’ono narrated to the gathering.
On more scores than one, Chin’ono has criticized Zimbabwe’s economic crisis management and corruption. In June 2020, he exposed an alleged corruption case involving the former Ministry of Health and the awarding of contracts to firms selling pharmaceuticals that sold COVID-19 medical supplies at exorbitant costs.
The expose led to the firing of the country’s health minister and his detention on unfounded allegations. Chin’ono was granted bail in September 2020 and later arrested again in November on charges of contempt of court for revealing additional judicial corruption in Zimbabwe.
To intimidate him, Chin’ono was detained for the third time in six months in January 2021 on suspicion of “communicating falsehoods.” The statute the police had invoked to detain him was later discovered to be outdated.
The award-winning journalist and filmmaker has previously worked with the BBC, ITV News, and the New York Times. In 2008, he won CNN’s African Journalist of the Year Award.
The concluded Africa Media Festival brought together over 300 participants from across Africa, including investors, grantmakers, media owners, social media platforms, journalists, creatives, and governments.