Yesterday, prominent Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested by law enforcement agents at his house. Shortly before his arrest the journalist tweeted that the law enforcement agents had made their way to his residence and were harassing his workers.
Shortly after his arrest, his account which wasn’t verified was taken down Twitter users going to the account are only met with a message reading, “This account doesn’t exist try searching for another”.
The fact that Hopewell’s Twitter account wasn’t verified despite multiple calls by Zimbabweans for verification before yesterday’s events is actually quite disappointing.
Hopewell has been vocal of the government and exposed multiple corruption scandals and the expectation by Zimbos on Twitter was that such an important voice would be verified and protected by the social media network.
There is currently a petition on Change.org under the title “Hopewell Chin’ono tweeter account (@daddyhope) must be verified. Zanu Pf wants it blocked.” The petition has a target of 5 000 signatures and currently has 3300+ signatures at the time of writing.
Why that Twitter account is so important
Hopewell was charged with “incitement to participate in public violence” and the basis of those charges are alleged to be based on tweets he made in relation to the July 31 demonstration. The problem with the deletion of his account is the following;
- Law enforcement authorities could have deleted the account after arresting Hopewell to make up charges on the basis of tweets that no longer exist or;
- Hopewell could be the one responsible for the deletion of his account – that still obstructs the course of justice and makes it harder for the government to appropriately charge him.
I think 1 is likelier than 2 but that’s reflective of a certain bias on my part. Whichever outcome is true is only known to the people involved but it still presents a big challenge and hopefully there is a way for that account to be recovered and if possible verified.