Yesterday, prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume who had been arrested on the 20th of July were finally granted bail. Apart from the $10 000 & $ 50 000 bail, instructions to report to the police 2-3 a week respectively, and surrendering their passports, the two were also banned from using social media. Yuhp, you read that right.
Hopewell Chin’ono was barred from using his Twitter account to “incite the holding of mass demonstrations” whilst on bail. His lawyers did mention that they are looking to find out if Chin’ono will be allowed to use Twitter for purposes outside of “incitement”. Other reports suggest he was banned from using social media altogether but this is unlikely as Hopewell himself said he would switch to Facebook and local media;
…They have removed me from Twitter but not from Facebook, so I’ll continue to write on Facebook and now I’ll write for local media as well. I’m going to write about my experience [in prison] for local media
In Jacob’s case the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) tweeted that he isn’t allowed to use his Twitter account;
Free at last: Justice Musithu has ended the detention Transform Zimbabwe party leader Jacob Ngarivhume by granting him $50 000 bail, barring him from sharing messages on Twitter, ordering him to report 3 times per week to @PoliceZimbabwe & also to surrender his passport.
— ZLHR (@ZLHRLawyers) September 2, 2020
The cases of Hopewell and Ngarivhume have been centred around their Twitter account. For Hopewell, Twitter was his primary avenue for exposing government corruption, whilst Jacob was vocal about protesting on the 31st of July. Hopewell’s Twitter account abruptly disappeared following his arrest in July and hasn’t resurfaced.
Hopewell & Jacob were arrested and charged with incitement to violence based on tweets made in relation to protests that were supposed to take place on the 31st of July. Their trial dates are expected to be set in a fortnight.