Award-winning journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, has made the difficult decision to stop reporting on a documentary called Gold Mafia by Al Jazeera for his own safety. The documentary exposes gold smuggling operations in Zimbabwe and implicates several prominent individuals and institutions. However, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, has warned journalists not to report on the documentary, claiming that it is defamatory.
In a Twitter post, Chin’ono stated that he would not be reporting on the story for his own safety after Charamba made it clear that there would be consequences if journalists continued to report on the documentary. This move highlights the dangers faced by journalists in Zimbabwe who are trying to expose corruption and illegal activities.
The first episode of the documentary, titled Gold Mafia, was released by Al Jazeera last week. It notes that there is a network of individuals who are exporting gold from Zimbabwe in exchange for dirty money from abroad, which is then cleaned in Zimbabwe. This is said to be a move to bust sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Smuggling is a significant problem in Zimbabwe, and it is hurting the country’s economy. The government estimates that $1.5 billion is lost each year due to gold smuggling, and $300 million due to tobacco smuggling. Fuel shortages have also contributed to smuggling, resulting in the loss of revenue for the government.
Smuggling creates an uneven playing field for legitimate businesses and can increase crime and corruption. The government must take action to tackle this issue and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The dangers faced by journalists like Chin’ono show the importance of freedom of the press and the need for protection for those who report on sensitive topics.