Police in Zimbabwe make two arrests, including journalist Hopewell Chin'ono
Harare, Zimbabwe CNN  — 

Zimbabwe police arrested a prominent journalist as well as an opposition leader Monday, alleging the two incited fellow citizens to “participate in public violence.”

In a media statement, the police confirmed that Jacob Ngarivhume of Transformation Zimbabwe and Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent journalist, were arrested, adding that, “the duo will appear in court soon and are currently in police custody.”

Ngarivhume is calling for nationwide protests on July 31 to push President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to fight corruption and a deteriorating economy under hashtag #ZanupfMustGo.

Early Monday, journalist Chin’ono posted a video clip of police arriving at his home and ordering him to stop the recording and ordered him to put his phone in his pockets.

The award-winning journalist was most recently working on allegations of corruption relating to the procurement of Covid-19 supplies by the health ministry, according to Amnesty International which accused the Zimbabwe government of using state’s security forces to crack down and police any critics.

“The arrests of Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume are designed to intimidate and send a chilling message to journalists, whistleblowers and activists who draw attention to matters of public interest in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for east and southern Africa in a statement.

Crackdown on dissents

In May, three female opposition members, who said they were kidnapped by security forces for days after they left a rally calling for better coronavirus palliatives for citizens, are in jail.

The women, also charged with breaking lockdown regulations, said they were tortured and sexually assaulted after their arrests but the government has accused them of faking their abductions.

At least 12 health workers were detained by the police during a demonstration over poor pay in July.

In the latest case, the United States Embassy in Harare said it was concerned by the arrest of Chin’ono – a fierce critic of President Mnangagwa who has uncovered cases of corruption involving government officials.

“President Mnangagwa noted the important role investigative journalists, like Chin’ono, play in shedding light on corruption. Political intimidation of the press has no place in democracies,” said the US Embassy in Harare on Twitter.

“Journalism is not a crime” and reporters should be protected as they play an important role in democracies, the EU embassy said in tweet, calling for Chin’ono’s immediate release.

CNN’s Bukola Adebayo contributed to the story.