For the third time in just a single month, jailed hard-hitting investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was Monday denied bail partly on the basis that his July 31 objective of inciting public violence for the ‘fall of Zanu PF’ is still pending, a Zimbabwean court has ruled.

According to Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna, who previously turned down Chin’ono’s bail application, the award winning scribe remains a threat to public safety as he intends to accomplish his ‘pending’ mission of bringing the ruling Zanu PF party to its fall.

“The basis for the call of the protests was meant for the fall of Zanu PF which has not happened. So it will be wrong to say July 31 was a non-event. The violent demonstrations remain pending. The date is only a day this was set to commence. The demonstration is still pending. Bail is hereby denied,” he argued.

Chin’ono, who together with Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested on July 20 for agitating public violence, faces a custodial sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.

He was remanded in custody to September 1.
Nduna argued that despite the July 31 date having passed with no incidences of violence, the violent demonstrations remain pending.

“I’m aware bail is now a fundamental right founded in the constitution and there can be doubt it is a right. The applicant sought bail on changed circumstances, but changed circumstances alone do not mean bail is automatic,” Nduna told the court.

The magistrate also argued that the legal team representing Chin’ono, who denies the charges, had not raised any compelling change of circumstances warranting a reversal in his earlier denial of bail on the journalist.

In his latest bid for bail, Chin’ono cited vulnerability to the Covid19 scourge being posed by his prolonged stay at the squalid Chikurubi Maximum Prison as reasons for being granted bail but the court disregarded them.

Roslyn Hanzi, who now represents the remanded writer, had also argued that July 31- the date on which the anti-government protests had been penciled to take place- had come and gone without any incidence of violence.

But the reason was also quashed by the magistrate.

“Applicant said the state of prisons is a new circumstance. He said when he was first brought to court, he was not aware of the conditions at both the remand prison and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and therefore this was not raised in his previous application,” he said.

Added Nduna:

“It is wrong to say this was not raised. What he has done is to add additional information to what he raised earlier. His arguments did not support his bid for release on bail but was meant for bad publicity (against prisons).”

Hanzi told journalists that they were going to contest the bail denial by the magistrate at the High Court.