Zimbabwe: Press freedom under attack

The charges against journalist Hopewell Chin’ono exposed the increasing harassment of media workers by the Zimbabwean government during the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliated the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) remind the government of its obligation to respect Constitutional rights, including press freedom.

Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono with his mobile phone moments after an interview with the AFP at his home in Harare on November 21, 2020. Credit: Jekesai Njkizana / AFP

Three years after Emerson Mnangagwa became the president of Zimbabwe, replacing Robert Mugabe, press freedom fundamentals haven't been respected as promised.

One of the most notable examples of this situation is the case of journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono, who was arrested twice this year following his tweets supporting an anti-corruption protest and criticizing Zimbabwe’s chief justice. The tweets were sent in July and November, respectively.

Chin’ono is one of the most awarded journalists in Zimbabwe, being CNN African Journalist of The Year in 2008.

The journalist claimed his arrest is aimed at silencing his colleagues, who are likely to fear reprisals if they posted critical content against the government. 

The journalists' situation in Zimbabwe got worse during Covid-19 pandemic. Authorities used the crisis to harass media workers and increase restrictions on their freedoms through draconian measures against reporting.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Zimbabwe’s government continues harassing and threatening independent journalists. Media workers can't work under fear of suffering reprisals for doing their job and being labelled as criminals. We call on the authorities to release Hopewell Chin’ono and stop targeting critical journalists."

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

Follow the IFJ on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Subscribe to IFJ News