AWARD-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says Zimbabweans must overcome fear to hold the government to account if the country is to end the scourge of corruption.
Chin’ono, who was recently released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where he was held for over 40 days for allegedly inciting Zimbabweans to protest against corruption on July 31, said looting by government officials had gone out of hand.
The veteran journalist was speaking at an event organised by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe and the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) in Harare on Friday.
CIJ runs a newly-established investigative journalism platform NewsHawksLive.
Chin’ono said Zimbabwe needed brave investigative journalists to uncover the rot in parastatals and government departments that have become havens for the corrupt.
The journalist said although his arrest was linked to the way he exposed the US$60 million scandal involving the procurement of Covid-19 personal protective equipment by a company known as Drax International and members of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family, he had only relied on information that was in the public domain to blow the whistle.
He said when he was in prison he was told that Mnangagwa said he had crossed the line by tarnishing the first family’s name.
“We should not be afraid of telling the truth because we will be thrown into prison,” Chin’ono said.
“The only unique thing I did was to say there is more into the story than I have read and started digging.”
“There was a false narrative while I was in prison that I was getting information from the government.
“I never got information from anyone. “Once we get journalists whose only job is to investigate and write what is happening out there, we will begin to see a shift.”
Prince Dubeko Sibanda, the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on information, publicity and broadcasting services, said legislators were worried about the executive’s abuse of the state-controlled media.
“Sticking out like a sore thumb is lack of interest by the executive to comply with the constitution,” Sibanda said.
“We have witnessed covert interference in the operations of the media from Munhumutapa (Information ministry headquarters.)”