PROMINENT investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono faces having his widely followed Twitter account shut down after it was reported to the social media network for sharing private information.
Chin’ono’s account has become the go-to platform as he has been releasing graphic details about the corrupt goings-on in Government tender processes, particularly with regards to the procurement of Covid-19 medicines which were overpriced.
Chin’ono has also rattled the ruling Zanu-PF, with the party’s acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa last week mentioning Chin’ono by name and calling him unscrupulous.
A massive social media campaign to have Twitter place a verified badge on Chin’ono’s account has since started. This was after Chin’ono released screenshots early on Wednesday showing that some people who are apparently uncomfortable with his leaks of government and corporate documents had reported him to Twitter.
Verified Twitter handles have a blue tick next to their names that identify the account as authentic. It helps users on the platform find genuine accounts of their favourite celebrities and public figures.
Said Chin’ono: “Good morning. They are trying to get my twitter account shut down by reporting to twitter that I am sharing private information.”
Chin’ono feared that he might lose his account, but suggested there were backup plans to ensure if the action to have his account suspended succeed, he will continue churning out his work.
“In case they attempt again, I will give (UK-based law expert) Alex Magaisa details of an alternative account that I will be using. He will let you know. For now Aluta Continua,” Chin’ono, who previously won the CNN Africa Jounalist of the Year, revealed.
Details divulged by Chin’ono include the shocking revelations that people close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family were linked to the milking of State coffers by overpricing Covid-19 medications, while the Finance Ministry took a laid-back approach to implementing due diligence.
In a startling turn of events, Government yesterday ordered the tenders to be cancelled, but there are fears that this could be a ploy to save face and that the funds might still have been long paid to the shelf companies that had been given the contracts.
Chin’ono exposed that the government had awarded procurement contracts to politically-connected companies not listed on the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) register.
One of those companies, Drax International, which also trades as Drax Consult SAGL, was given contracts of US$20 million and US$40 million to supply medical equipment and drugs. The company is registered in Dubai and Switzerland, with a sole shareholder – Ilir Dedja, an Alabanian-born Italian national.
Acting health ministry secretary Dr Gibson Mhlanga, in a June 5 letter to NatPharm, wrote: “You are being directed to cancel ALL contracts that you had with Drax SAGL with immediate effect.
“Please be advised that this process needs to be completed by latest Friday, June 12, 2020, and all documentation showing cancellation of the same to be submitted in my office by then.”
Mhlanga, who did not provide reasons for the cancellation of the contracts, said NatPharm should “treat this issue with the urgency that it requires.”
A setback to efforts to save Chin’ono’s account could be that Twitter suspended applications for page verifications in 2017, and was at the moment doing verifications at its own discretion.
A check by the Zimbabwe Voice on Twitter’s help page shows the networking giant still says that its verified account program is on hold, and they are not accepting any new requests at the time.
However, reports this week said Twitter was working on a new system to verify the users. – Zimbabwe Voice