Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer internationally famous for representing journalists is no ordinary lawyer. Fortune ranked her at 22 amongst the World’s Greatest Leaders for her work as a human rights lawyer. The USA recognized her as one of 10 “international women of courage.” Now, facing possible disbarring in Zimbabwe, she got ordered to stand down from representing Hopewell Chin’ono. Part of the reasons involved the content on a Facebook Page. The admin, Lorie Conway, claimed she, and only she, is responsible for the content on the page.
Beatrice Mtetwa barred from representing journalist Hopewell Chi’nono
We reported on July 22, that journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested when. “Eight security personnel broke into his home and dragged him out.” The Guardian reported that it went down with no warrant issued or shown. We note that he obviously upset some powerful people. Chin’ono reported on “COVID-19 profiteering by ZANU PF officials and their families.”
Apparently, accused of promoting and citing violence of the best lawyers in the industry stepped up to represent Hopewell. New Zimbabwe.com reported on Tuesday, August 18th, that Beatrice Mtetwa was “permanently barred from representing Hopewell Chin’ono.” It came when a court in Harare, Zimbabwe found that she “abandoned professional conduct.” Furthermore, they alleged she “developed a personal interest in the journalist’s case.”
Additionally, she allegedly wrote a letter to the “High Court” wherein she spoke out emotionally about Chin’ono’s case. Magistrate Ngoni Nduna also “wants the lawyer held in contempt of court by the Prosecutor General.” That could lead to an investigation by the Law Society of Zimbabwe and could lead to her losing her license to practice.
Blaming Facebook posts
In the court ruling, Nduna claimed that Beatrice Mtetwa “scandalised the courts.” That came because Hopewell’s arrest is described as an “abduction.” Additionally, he tied her to a Facebook Page, “Beatrice Mtetwa@The Rule of Law.” Nduna felt that because the page put up posts about it, it clearly indicated that she was the “author and owner of the Facebook page.”
In his ruling, the magistrate noted, “She can’t put all the blame on Lorrie Cornway (sic).” She’s the “Facebook page admin.” That came after Beatrice Mtetwa denied she is behind the Facebook page. Actually, the admin herself notes that she is the only person who posts anything to Facebook on the page.
Admin on Facebook Page claims Beatrice Mtetwa doesn’t post to her page
On the weekend, Lorie Conway spoke about changing the name of the Page, She wrote, “many of you…requested that I change the name of the page to reflect my name as the AUTHOR, WRITER AND PUBLISHER. So, I [did] that TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT Beatrice Mtetwa DOES NOT write these posts. Even if she wanted to, and she’s too busy to, by the way, Beatrice has NO ACCESS to this page.” She added, “I am the only Administrator listed and allowed by Facebook to write these posts.”
Well, that may be the case, but it came too late for Beatrice. In a second post, Lorie revealed a screenshot of the admin on the page. Actually, it’s standard that only those Admins authorized, on the site may post to the page. But, it looks like no amount of arguments prevailed for Beatrice in court. Nevertheless, the outcome could set an interesting precedent on the way Facebook admins manage their pages.
What are your thoughts on the magistrate in Zimbabwe? He suggested that Beatrice Mtewta’s responsible for things that Lorie Conway shared on her Facebook page? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below.