Nyarota and Kuwaza clash at Press Club

HARARE,– Former editor of the Daily News Geoffrey Nyarota on Friday clashed openly with the deputy chairman of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Charles Kuwaza at the Quill Club for Journalists.\r\n

The drama began when Kuwaza stormed into the press club after hearing that Nyarota was a panelist there.

Nyarota did not waste time identifying Kuwaza as he stood quietly among an audience of Journalists hungry for juicy news stories. The two men exchanged some harsh words over a story which appeared in South Africa,s Sunday Times recently alleging that the First Lady Grace Mugabe had an affair with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.

In an article published in the Herald a few weeks ago, Nyarota claimed that he met Kuwaza at a city sports club and discussed the alleged sex scandal story which was picked up by many foreign based news agencies. Gono accuses Kuwaza of fighting to have him ousted as central bank chief.

But Kuwaza, in a Herald response to Nyarota last week, made a scathing attack on Nyarota whom he accused of being a liar and a corrupt Journalist working to get “30 pieces of silver”.

Nyarota said Kuwaza had arranged for a meeting with him over refreshments inside a city sports club but Kuwaza, for strange reasons, ambushed him in thick darkness at the gate and drove him in his own (Kuwaza) car to a different place in a typical abduction style.

“At one point, I was tempted to jump out of the car but realised perhaps driving on was a more desirable option,” he said.

Nyarota did not stop describing the incident evidently unconcerned about Kuwaza’s growing discomfort as journalists turned to focus on him.

After Nyarota had finished his lengthy presentation, Kuwaza was immediately confronted by journalists to respond to the statements but could not stand the heat.

“I just came simply to listen. I have just been playing squash. Should I not be here?” protested Kuwaza, who claimed he had a distant relationship with Nyarota.

As pressure mounted on him, Kuwaza stormed out of the Quill club but not before he had another skirmish with a journalist whom he accused of photographing him.

Here is Kuwaza’s e mail to Mr Nyarota:

“You phoned me stating that you had reason to believe that my life was in danger, and you needed, completely off the record, to bring your findings to my attention. You said the matter was urgent, and even mere possession of the information was worrying you.

“I told you I did not ordinarily speak to journalists as some of them had betrayed trust in the past. However, your story was credible because, indeed, somebody had threatened to “sort me out” in the recent past.

“When I met you, you said that my life was in danger because some people were alleging that I had some hand in the story that Swain had published in the Sunday Times of South Africa.

“You said that you had heard that I had been arrested. I confirmed that I had been to the police station to answer certain charges. I told you I had answered those charges to their satisfaction and was released, on the same day on September 29th, not 19th as alleged in your article.

“You then went on to say that certain people were suspecting Gono to be behind the arrest. I told you I did not know, but the police could provide leads if approached.

“You asked whether I had met Swain and I told you I did not know him from a bar of soap. You told me he was an award-winning journalist, alongside with yourself.

“You then asked for my opinion on that article and I told you that I had no particular interest in the matter as it appeared like yellow journalism.

“You then asked if this was the result of infighting in Zanu-PF, and I told you that I had no such knowledge. You asked whether I had any friends among ministers and I told you I had worked with many ministers for 30 years, but none had ever discussed such matters with me.

“You asked about the reputed infighting at the Reserve Bank, and I told you there was no such fighting, that this was the pink Press attempting to elevate ordinary discourse at board level to something newsworthy.

“You asked whether there were any people in Zimbabwe who could be governor, and I commented that, that was a bizarre question, as there were many professionals in the country and elsewhere. I told you that I did not know all people or their capabilities.

“The comments that you add about who was leaking information, were really never put to me, these are your own thoughts which you are trying to give credence to by quoting me as a source.

The “facts, opinions, half-truths, lies, all meshed together to give credence to the story” that you should have referred to, were in relation to the original story of the Sunday Times of September 12, not Swain’s story.

“I asked you again why you thought my life was in danger, but you had no firm details leading to your conclusion. You said you were going to check with some informants, and would come back to me with more specific information on the attempt on my life.

“When you came back, for what you allege to be a second interview, you repeated the story and regurgitated old stories in the Sunday Times. There was nothing new there.

“Whatever happened to journalistic ethics? One of the issues you said you were angry about was Swain’s lack of professionalism, in that he never asked for comments before going to print.

“I never saw your article before you sold it to the highest bidder. You fell into Swain’s trap on the first hurdle.

“I know times are hard, but this is no way to make a living. It seems to me anyone who can pay the piper can ram their thoughtless opinions in national newspapers. This is a zero sum game, which some of us have no time for. Can you imagine the time wasted responding to these scurrilous and purposeless allegations?

“I find your whole conduct lacking integrity. I don’t know who you are working for. The language you use is intemperate, and below the dignity of a man of your experience and reputation (previous).

“In fact, I was concerned whether you were still the same man or something fundamental had changed after your stint in the USA.

“You came pretending to assist me but turned out to be the proverbial wolf. Going backwards to be cub reporter is clearly not a sign of maturity.

“Not having met you before, I noted the slow uptake of issues, repetitions on your part, and wondered whether you were still the same man I had heard of in my youth.

“Eventually, I concluded that you were on a fishing expedition and the “life and death” situation that you had painted was just that, a poor painting. Unfortunately, there was no tiger to catch, not even matemba. Ko aunza mvongamupopoto mumba ndiani?

“Could you find issues which advance the national agenda, seeking progress rather than commit acres of space to worthless skulduggery, something which the youthful reporters from H-Metro could learn from the seasoned journalist that you should be.

“In the meantime, enjoy your 30 pieces of silver.”