HARARE – The ruling Zanu PF party has reacted angrily to a newspaper report that claimed President Robert Mugabe owed businessman and former Zanu PF provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde $30 million.

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Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo (right)

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On Monday NewsDay, which is published by Alpha Media Holdings, claimed the President told the party’s Politburo meeting in Harare last Thursday that they “must not be shocked that Kaukonde might drag him to court over the $30 million debt which he gave the First Family years back.”

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Sources told the paper that Mugabe — speaking shortly after Kaukonde was expelled from the party — said the debt “was accumulated by the First Lady Grace Mugabe before the multi-currency regime era.”

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President Mugabe, claimed the paper, “indicated that he would settle the debt soon.”

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Simon Khaya Moyo, the party’s spokesperson, said: “Somebody must be daydreaming somewhere because I was in the Politburo the entire time and the President never said such a thing. It’s absolute hogwash. Whoever is propagating these lies is not in their right senses.”

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Zanu PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere: “From where we stand, that’s a fabricated and malicious story. It’s absolute nonsense. Whoever made up that story, that’s very irresponsible.”

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Joshua Malinga, the party’s secretary for the disabled, said: “The President never said that. To my knowledge, the President never said what’s being claimed.”

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Fellow Zanu-PF politburo member and Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo confronted Alpha Media owner, Trevor Ncube, and his editor in chief, Vincent Kahiya, on Twitter yesterday.

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“This story is false in a big and damaging way. You make my work impossible! To begin with, has Kaukonde ever had this kind of money?” Prof Moyo asked.

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Ncube responded to Prof Moyo saying: “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ve asked the team to follow up and get back.”

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Malinga and Kasukuwere said the NewsDay “fabrication” was a clear abuse of press freedom.

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“I know that this is your profession, but one should never take everything they read in the newspapers for fact unless they confirm it with the subject of the story,” he said.

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NewsDay claimed “repeated efforts to contact Kaukonde were fruitless” and that “presidential spokesperson George Charamba and Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo’s mobile phones went unanswered throughout the day yesterday [Sunday].”

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Blasted Kasukuwere: “That’s very terrible and people should not try to play these stupid games to undermine the President. We need to investigate this matter and get to the bottom of it. In as much as we respect press freedom, we can’t allow such irresponsible reporting.

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“We’ll never allow people to make disparaging statements about the country’s leadership.” – Nehanda Radio