Journalist Chin’ono slams opposition candidates for silence on ZANU-PF abuses

Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono


Staff Reporter

Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent Zimbabwean journalist and anti-corruption activist, has criticised most of the opposition candidates for the upcoming 2023 general elections for failing to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party on issues of looting, plunder, repression and incarceration of dissenters.

In a statement posted on his social media platforms on Monday, Chin’ono said that apart from Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and Saviour Kasukuwere none of the other eight presidential candidates had ever spoken out against ZANU-PF or Mnangagwa.

“They never talk about looting, plunder, repression and incarceration of Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume. They just mouth off silly promises! Are they in the race to win or to assist with rigging?” Chin’ono wrote.

Chin’ono was referring to Job Sikhala, the vice-chairperson of Chamisa’s CCC party, and Jacob Ngarivhume, the leader of Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) party, who were arrested in July 2020 for allegedly inciting public violence ahead of a planned anti-corruption protest. They were both denied bail and are still in prison awaiting trial.

Chin’ono himself was arrested three times in 2020 on various charges related to his investigative reporting on corruption scandals involving senior government officials and Covid-19 supplies. He was also accused of inciting public violence and undermining state security. He spent several weeks in jail before being released on bail.

His statement comes as Zimbabwe is preparing for its second general elections since the ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017.

Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe after a military intervention, is seeking a second term in office amid a worsening economic crisis, human rights violations and allegations of electoral fraud.

Chamisa, who narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the disputed 2018 polls, has accused the president of violating the law and tearing apart independent institutions to cling to power. He has also warned that any evidence of tampering by ZANU-PF in the upcoming elections could lead to “total disaster” for a beleaguered nation that is desperate for change.

Sikhala chatting to Chin’ono in Court

Other opposition candidates have been less vocal or visible in their campaigns, raising questions about their motives and credibility. Some analysts have suggested that some of them are being used by ZANU-PF as proxies to divide the opposition vote and legitimise Mnangagwa’s victory.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced that the elections will be held on August 23, 2023. A total of 11 presidential candidates have been nominated, as well as hundreds of parliamentary and local government candidates.

The elections are expected to be closely monitored by local and international observers, as well as civil society groups and media organisations. However, some opposition parties and activists have expressed doubts about the independence and impartiality of the ZEC, which has been accused of favouring ZANU-PF in previous elections.

Ngarivhume and Chin’ono

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