Regional digital rights advocacy organisation raises concern on Hopewell,Ngarivhume arrest

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A digital rights advocacy organisation, Paradigm Initiative has joined in the condemnation of the arrest of freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume who have since been brought to the Harare magistrate court on Wednesday morning.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Paradigm Initiative says it is deeply concerned with the arrest of freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume who are being represented by prominent lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

“Paradigm Initiative is deeply concerned by the arrest of Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on the 20th of July 2020 from his home in Harare. 

“The arrest which he live-streamed is allegedly linked to three tweets exposing acts of corruption within the government. The police also arrested an opposition activist Jacob Ngarivhume on the same day,” said the digital rights watchdog.

Paradigm Initiative’s Program Officer for Southern Africa, Bulanda Nkhowani, describes the development as “an outlandish action indicating a failure of the government of Zimbabwe to protect journalists in the conduct of their work as mandated by Principle 20(1) and (2) of the Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa (the Declaration) adopted by the African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session held From 21 October to 10 November 2019 In Banjul, The Gambia”.

Paradigm Initiative’s Program Officer for Southern Africa, Bulanda Nkhowani, describes the development as “an outlandish action indicating a failure of the government of Zimbabwe to protect journalists in the conduct of their work as mandated by Principle 20(1) and (2) of the Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa (the Declaration) adopted by the African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session held From 21 October to 10 November 2019 In Banjul, The Gambia”.

According to Bulanda, the “ principle states clearly that States shall guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners and take measures to prevent attacks on journalists and other media practitioners, including murder, extra-judicial killing, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, kidnapping, intimidation, threats and unlawful surveillance undertaken by State and non-State actors”.

The organisation’s Community Manager Thobelike Masimbe implored the Zimbabwean government to stop wanton arrests of journalists and ensure that the arrested duo get fair justice.

“We further urge the government of Zimbabwe to desist from arbitrary arrests of journalists, to desist from the unjustified invasion of their privacy and to follow due process to ensure that Hopewell and Jacob get access to justice,”.

The regional digital rights advocacy organisation   is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and pushes for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa).