A Zimbabwean court on Thursday rejected prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s bail application, saying he has a “propensity to commit offences.”
The journalist, who spent more than 40 days in a Harare maximum security prison after he was arrested in July for allegedly inciting protests through Twitter posts, was arrested for the second time a week ago.
He was charged with defeating the cause of justice after he tweeted about the bail hearing of a woman linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was arrested for gold smuggling.
Mr Chin’ono’s lawyers said they would appeal to the High Court.
“We disagree with the ruling and [we are] filing an appeal to the High Court,” his lawyer Douglas Coltart said.
“He does not have any previous conviction…Our constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence.”
The journalist will go on trial between December 7 and 9 on a separate case where he is charged with inciting violence through Twitter.
A High Court judge last month released him on bail on condition that he does not tweet any material that incites protests.
In July, Mr Chin’ono was arrested alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition leader, for their Twitter posts ahead of protests against corruption.
The protests were thwarted by security forces after the government claimed they were meant to topple President Mnangagwa.
Mr Ngarivhume was granted $600 bail while Mr Chin’ono was ordered to pay $120 for his freedom.
Their arrest was met with global condemnation of President Mnangagwa’s government, which is accused of using the cover of Covid-19 to crush dissent.
A senior leader of the opposition MDC Alliance, Job Sikhala, spent more than 40 days in prison after he was arrested over the protests. He was then granted bail.
Several activists were also arrested for taking part in the protests while others are still in hiding.
Critics say Mr Chin’ono is being targeted for exposing corruption in the government's procurement of medical supplies to fight Covid-19.
Another investigative journalist, Mduduzi Mathuthu, who broke a story about a $60 million dollar Covid-19 drugs procurement scandal that implicated President Mnangagwa's family, remains in hiding after police raided his home on the eve of the protests.
Police said they were investigating him for his alleged role in organising the July 31 protests.