July 23, 2020 / 2:06 PM / 11 days ago

Zimbabwe politician denied bail in anti-government protests case

HARARE, July 23 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Thursday denied bail to an opposition politician who called for protests against government corruption and rolled over a similar case against a journalist to Friday.

Jacob Ngarivhume, who called for the July 31 street demonstrations with support from the main opposition party, was arrested together with freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and charged with inciting the public to commit violence.

A magistrate said if released, Ngarivhume would continue to promote violent protests and urge the public to break a coronavirus lockdown. He will remain in prison detention until a routine court appearance next month.

Another magistrate separately deferred the bail hearing for Chin’ono to Friday.

Businesses and courts close at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) in Zimbabwe after a dawn-to-dusk curfew that came into effect on Wednesday to curb the COVID-19 crisis.

Ngarivhume’s lawyer said he would appeal the ruling at the High Court. The two men face up to 10 years jail if convicted.

Critics say the duo is being persecuted for speaking out against corruption in government.

Political tension is rising in Zimbabwe, where inflation is running above 700%, angering citizens who say President Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed to deliver on a promise to revive the economy after the removal of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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