Zimbabwe Says U.S. ‘Meddles’ in Affairs After Journalist Arrest

Zimbabwe has accused the U.S. government of interfering with its internal affairs after journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested this week, in a further souring of relations between the two nations.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters in the capital Harare on Saturday that the U.S. embassy got involved in the matter within minutes of the police’s arrival at Chin’ono’s house, seeking to bring pressure on the Zimbabwe government.

Chin’ono had gained a huge following on his social media for exposing corruption linked to the procurement of $60 million worth of medical supplies for the coronavirus by government officials, leading to the health minister’s dismissal. He also questioned the influence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son, Collins, in the opaque deals.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Chin’ono was not abducted and was not arrested for writing about corruption, but for using his social media accounts to incite the overthrow of the government,” said Mutsvangwa. Chin’ono was denied bail on Friday by the magistrate’s court in Harare and will be held in custody until August 7.

The southern African nation is struggling with food and fuel shortages and a currency that has quickly lost value. A nationwide demonstration against government corruption and mismanagement is planned for July 31, while doctors and nurses began a strike last month demanding payment of salaries in U.S. dollars and better working conditions.

Mutsvangwa said Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo will summon the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols, over the latest interference. Nichols was summoned last month to explain comments made by a senior White House official that the southern African nation was exploiting protests over the killing of George Floyd.

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