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Why I am standing with Hopewell Chin'ono

26 Jul 2020 at 11:13hrs | Views
THE harsh treatment of journalist hopewell Chin'ono has shown the extent to which President Emmerson Mnangagwa can go to protect those robbing future generations of their wealth through unbridled corruption.

Chin'ono is an alumni of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at America's prestigious harvard University, and has in recent months, used his Twitter handle to shine light in very dark places.

his work and that of other investigative journalists operating under difficult conditions helped expose the biggest recorded plunder so far of resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe.

Chin'ono's unrelenting work demonstrated how US$60 million could have been siphoned from the broke government's coffers to pay a dubious Dubai-based company that supplied overpriced medical sundries.

The reports led to the arrest of then health minister Obadiah Moyo, who emerged as a central figure in the scandal.

Under pressure from agitated Zimbabweans, Mnangagwa had to reluctantly cut loose one of his most trusted loyalists.

I follow Chin'ono's active Twitter feed, which he has used to hold our government to account.

I was appalled to read of his arrest, which was done to instil maximum fear in the journalism fraternity.

Chino'no, among many other brave journalists in Zimbabwe, has played a big part in exposing corruption that has become pervasive in the corridors of power.

The exposè on the overpayment for Covid 19 kits to a fly-by-night company named Drax International, which implicated the first family and ended Moyo's brief tenure as health minister certainly rubbed the authorities the wrong way.

According to various media reports, Drax's local representative Delish Nguwaya has a strong connection with one of Mnangagwa's sons.

even though Drax International failed background checks, it was handed a tender worth millions of dollars. The Drax case could just be a tip of an ice-berg.

Chin'ono's contribution has attracted the attention of many Zimbabweans, international institutions, and transparency watchdogs.

The joy of a journalist is to see his/her work making an impact and drawing people into action. In Zimbabwe, it is a different case.

Instead of applauding journalists who worked hard to stop corruption, the government reacted by activating its propaganda machinery, which churned out all sorts of threats and started calling for Chin'ono's arrest.

The Zimbabwean government has a long history of protecting criminals within and persecuting perceived enemies.

One wonders whose interests the government is serving by protecting criminals within.

The anger in the corridors of power over the corruption exposès is palpable.

Zanu-PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa was not amused by journalists exposing corruption.

Prior to Chin'ono's arrest, Chinamasa made a series of threats to punish journalists who dare expose corruption.

having served as Finance and Justice minister as well as attorney-general, Chinamasa should know better about transparency, honesty, integrity and accountability, especially when dealing with misuse of public funds.

Zimbabwe's problems are rooted in corruption, poor governance and weak government structures populated by "yes-men" who are eager to crush free press and harm anyone, who dares expose them.

Our government has a record of protecting and rewarding the corrupt.

Some have built fortunes both within and outside the country by stealing from the public coffers.

They label anyone who dares expose the malfeasance as an enemy of the country.

Very few people are courageous enough to expose corruption because of the big price they would have to pay.

By allowing himself to be a lightning rod in fighting corruption, I am sure my fellow brother knew that he risked being electrocuted by such efforts.

Those who stand for justice tend to pay the ultimate price in Zimbabwe.

Armed police broke into his house and damaged property before arresting him.

Many journalists are bearing the brunt of the merciless Zimbabwean government.

The government has made it difficult for journalists to operate by classifying any critics as enemies of the state.

This has forced many journalists into exile while some have been forced into silence.

In Zimbabwe right now there is an urgency to deal with the elephant in the room, which is corruption.

Having won the hearts of the majority by playing a big part in removing longtime dictator Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa has squandered the goodwill to make
things right.

Instead, he perfected Mugabe's toolbox of incompetence he inherited.

Zimbabwe is in a very deep hole and the present government has no capacity to uplift the country.

It would be stupid to expect change under Mnangagwa's leadership. his government is clueless.

his own deputy, Kembo Mohadi, had the nerve to confess to Zanu-PF supporters that the government does not know what to do with the economy because erstwhile colonisers did not show them how to run it.

Right now, the government is taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to muzzle any semblance of freedom.

health workers, who are on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic are sent out to work without the basic personal protective equipment.

Their plea for better salaries has been met with utmost brutality from the government.

Since his first day in office, Mnangagwa has been making false promises that he would make the life of ordinary Zimbabweans better.

he is so fixated on retaining power at all costs that he crushes any descent.

Zanu-PF has stolen many people's dreams and the party seems not to care.

Billions of dollars are being lost to a small clique of those who have captured the levers of power. To Zanu-PF, stealing from the public is no longer shameful at all.

That is wrong.

And journalists have a role to play in exposing this kind of looting and poor governance in Zimbabwe that has brought the country to its knees.

It's an act of patriotism to fight evil and expose corruption within the corridors of government.

Of course, it will not be easy, they will threaten, assault, arrest, and kill but the work of journalism has not been more important than now.

I felt ashamed for my colleagues who rejoice when other journalists are being harassed.

It is a personal choice to side with the oppressor and to be complicit in mis-governance for a few temporary privileges is nothing short of being disgraceful

But history will judge those siding with the looters and oppressors.

True journalism is about facts and truths, holding government and the powerful to account.

It's shameful for journalists to glorify corruption. A free press is essential for democracy.

I am standing with my brother Chin'ono, the Zimbabwean Nieman family has stood up with you, other well-meaning journalists are with you, and the rest of the country is with you.

Organisations such as the United Nations are with you.

They are raising concerns of such blatant abuse of power to silence journalists.

There is a long list of journalists, who have been harassed and arrested this year alone in Zimbabwe.

They harass you because they want you to stop exposing the rot, but the ethos of journalism requires you to do more.

Journalism is not a crime. It is an exercise in truth telling.

Obey Manayiti is a journalist at The Standard and a Nieman fellow

Source - newZwire
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