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Zimbabwe police detain prominent journalist, protest leader | News

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Zimbabwean police have arrested an opposition official and a journalist, accusing them of inciting violence ahead of street demonstrations planned for next week by activists who charge government corruption has exacerbated economic hardship.

The journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, has a huge following on Twitter, where he regularly posts about alleged government corruption. He has also been using his account to encourage Zimbabweans to speak out and act against corruption.

“They are breaking into my home. Alert the world!” Chin’ono tweeted as police raided his home on Monday. His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said he was detained at a police station in the capital, Harare, but was being denied access to lawyers.

The arrest of Chin’ono, a Harvard University Nieman Fellow, drew sharp criticism in Zimbabwe and abroad.

“Political intimidation of the press has no place in democracies,” tweeted the US embassy in Harare, which in the past has been accused by the ruling party of “sponsoring” Chin’ono.

The Dutch embassy described his arrest as “part of a worrying trend against free speech in Zimbabwe”.

The organiser of the planned July 31 protest, opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, is also in police custody, said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which is providing lawyers for him.

Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said Chin’ono and Ngarivhume have been charged with “incitement to participate in public violence” and would appear in court “soon”.

Journalists, lawyers, doctors and nurses are among hundreds of people who have been arrested in recent months in Zimbabwe for protesting, striking for better pay or, in some cases, simply doing their work as tensions rise in the troubled southern African country.

A deteriorating economy and reports of widespread corruption linked to government contracts for the purchase of COVID-19 personal protective gear and drugs amid poor service delivery have further stoked public anger.

In June, Chin’ono said he feared for his life after ruling ZANU-PF party spokesman Patrick Chinamasa accused the journalist of seeking to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa by linking the president’s family to alleged corrupt COVID-19-related contracts.

Deprose Muchena, a regional director with Amnesty International, said the arrests are “designed to intimidate and send a chilling message to journalists, whistle-blowers and activists who draw attention to matters of public interest in Zimbabwe.”

“He is being victimized for exposing corruption in government,” said the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Secretary-General, Foster Dongozi, in a statement.

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Thousands displaced after Tropical Cyclone Eloise hits Mozambique | Weather News

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Nearly 7,000 people forced from their homes and more than 130,000 hectares of crops destroyed by torrential downpours and floods.

Heavy rains and flooding have forced thousands to flee their homes in Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone Eloise brought wind gusts of up to 150 kilometres per hour (kph).

Eloise struck Mozambique’s Sofala coastal province on Saturday morning before weakening and heading inland to dump rain on Zimbabwe, eSwatini – formerly known as Swaziland – and South Africa.

On Sunday, Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) said investigations had shown Eloise had displaced 6,859 people. The region’s Buzi district had been particularly hard hit with severe winds.

“Families are in urgent need of essential supplies like food, water, blankets and shelter,” Marcia Penicela, project manager at ActionAid Mozambique, said on Sunday.

“With high floodwaters and power lines down in Buzi, the challenge will now be reaching people most in need,” she added.

Eloise ruined 136,755 hectares of crops, destroyed nine schools and damaged about 17 other schools and 11 hospitals, according to INGD.

It had completely destroyed 1,069 houses, partially destroyed 3,343 and flooded another 1,500, the agency said.

After weakening and being downgraded to a tropical storm, Eloise moved on from Zimbabwe to dump heavy rain on some areas of South Africa’s Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, authorities there said.

“So far the highest amount that we’ve recorded is somewhere between 115-128 mm of rainfall in Limpopo, especially in the northeast,” Puseletso Mofokeng, a senior forecaster at the South African Weather Service, told Reuters news agency.

Floods had hit the lowveld of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and winds had blown the roofs of houses and knocked down trees, blocking roads, he said.

Certain parts of the affected provinces were likely to see another 100mm of rain tonight and more expected rain on Monday, Mofokeng said.

Heavy rains were also recorded in eastern and southeastern parts of Zimbabwe on Saturday, filling most dams and flooding some rivers. At least three people were swept away when they tried to cross flooded rivers in eastern Zimbabwe, authorities said.



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