Kuwaza skirted the issues raised – Nyarota

On Tuesday, November 16, The Herald published an article submitted by the deputy chairman of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Kuwaza.

The article was written in response to one written by me and published in the same newspaper on November 12 as a follow-up to an earlier piece also written by me to challenge a story written by British journalist, Jon Swain, and published in The Sunday Times of October 24.

Swain claimed that his article was based on information furnished by two primary sources, Sabina Mugabe, President Mugabe’s late sister, and Senior Assistant Commissioner Cain Chademana, his most trusted bodyguard, who is also late.

Swain claimed to have spoken to other sources at the Central Intelligence Organisation, at the Reser-ve Bank of Zimbabwe and at President’s Gushungo Diary Farm.

Sabina Mugabe and Chademana had curiously both died before Swain wrote his story.

My November 12 article suggested that Swain’s article may not have been anything more than the latest episode in an ongoing battle, pitting the embattled governor of the RBZ, Gideon Gono, against Kuwaza, his deputy chairman.

I wrote the article after I spoke to Kuwaza on Tuesday, November 2, and on Thursday, November 4. The first meeting was held in unusual circumstances, while we sat in the dark in Kuwaza’s car.

He had parked the vehicle behind a building next to the tennis courts at Old Hararians Sports Club in Milton Park. Kuwaza had picked me up in his car from the club’s main entrance, and driven to the dark spot, music blaring on his radio at full blast.

He said this was a security measure.

Before I asked any question or formally introduced myself or explained the purpose of the requested meeting, Kuwaza started to talk non-stop about Gideon Gono and the much reported about goings-on at the Reserve Bank.

Research conducted on the Internet had revealed much infighting at the Reserve Bank between the governor and chairman and his deputy chairman, Kuwaza.

My conversation with Kuwaza that night left me in no doubt that there was bad blood between him and Gono. He said he was particularly angry that Gono had caused his arrest on allegations of fraud at the State Procurement Board, where he is chairman.

My second discussion with Kuwaza was held again in his vehicle. He picked me up from behind his wife’s pharmacy in Belvedere, where he had asked me to wait for him. He parked the vehicle in a far corner behind the Belvedere Shopping Complex where refuse collection vehicles plied their business while we discussed.

Kuwaza had informed me during the first meeting that certain politicians, described by him as his sympathisers who had been angered by Gono’s action in allegedly causing his arrest, had informed Swain that Gono was allegedly having an affair with the First Lady. During the second meeting I asked for the identity of the politicians.

Kuwaza said they belonged to Zanu-PF. I suspected this statement was not true.

In his November 16 article, Kuwaza suggested that my article was "full of lies and distortions".

"Here is what I have mailed Mr Nyarota in response to his article," Kuwaza stated in the article before he proceeded to analyse my article, paragraph by paragraph.

The claim by Kuwaza that he mailed to me his response to my article before he submitted it to The Herald for publication is totally false. I never received any email message from Kuwaza. I don’t believe he knew my e-mail address at the time. He was elusive last Friday when I phoned his office several times while seeking to discuss the issue of the e-mail message which he claims he sent to me.

I gave my e-mail address to Kuwaza’s secretary on Friday. I requested her to pass on to her boss the challenge that he re-send his alleged e-mail message to me or forward it to a third person of his choice.

If Kuwaza re-sends the message to me or forwards it to a third party, as requested, the message will show the date on which the original message was allegedly sent to me.

But then, Kuwaza cannot re-send any message to me because he never sent any e-mail message to me in the first place.

His claim, like a number of other statements he made about me in his article, is a blatant lie.

It is not true that I told Kuwaza that his life was in danger. I did not know Kuwaza until the night I met him at Old Hararians. I informed him truthfully on the phone that I wanted to discuss with him what appeared to be his link to the furnishing of the information used by Swain to craft his article for the Sunday Times issue of October 24.

Kuwaza was so excited by this disclosure that within hours I was sitting with him in his car at the sports club.

I did not know that Kuwaza had been arrested in September, as he claims. I first knew about Kuwaza’s arrest only when he told me about it on the night of our first meeting. I could not have informed Kuwaza that there was any suspicion that Gono was behind this arrest when I did not know about it.

It is Kuwaza who complained biterly about his arrest at the alleged behest of Gono.

Kuwaza stated that his sympathisers, who were politicians, had been angered by Gono’s action and had passed damaging information about Gono on to Swain in retaliation.

When I asked Kuwaza for his opinion of Swain’s October 24 article he stated categorically that the article was "facts, opinions, half-truths, lies, all meshed together to give credence to the story".

I never asked Kuwaza whether the leaking of information to Swain was the result of infighting within Zanu-PF, as he claims. It is Kuwaza who raised the spectre of Zanu-PF, apparently to divert attention from the MDC. Kuwaza realised that he had somehow implicated the MDC when he made the following series of statements:

-That Zanu-PF had fired him from the position of Permanent Secretary for Finance because he was closely linked to the MDC;

-That Finance Minister Tendai Biti had appointed him chairman of the State Procurement Board.

-That Biti had appointed him deputy chairman of the board at the Reserve Bank.

l and, finally, that he played chess with Biti.

Because he had associated himself so closely with the MDC, Kuwaza realised that if he merely stated that his political sympathisers had supplied damaging information to Swain to hit at Gono, I might jump to the conclusion that his political sympathisers were linked to the MDC.

He then stated that the sympathisers were in fact Zanu-PF politicians, adding that Gono had made many enemies within the ranks of Zanu-PF.

During my discussion with Kuwaza on two occasions he never mentioned anything about "the pink Press attempting to elevate ordinary discourse at board level to something newsworthy", as he now claims. This statement is a complete fabrication.

Kuwaza says he never saw my article before I "sold it to the highest bidder".

The truth is that I never offered my article to any bidder. No publication ever paid or offered to pay me for the article. I offered this article for free in the first instance to The Sunday Standard on Friday, November 5. I had previously offered another article on the same subject which appeared in The Standard on October 31. I was not paid for that article either; not that newspapers in Zimbabwe offer life-sustaining rates to the correspondents who submit the articles which they publish.

When the Standard did not publish the article which I submitted on November 5 I offered the article to The Herald and The Zimbabwe Mail, an online publication. The Zimbabwe Mail published the article first and it was then published in The Herald on November 12.

The Zimbabwe Mail never pays for the articles that it publishes. I never discussed any payment for the article when I offered it to the editor of The Herald.

The suggestion by Kuwaza that I offered my article to the highest bidder is, therefore, a malicious falsehood

Kuwaza claims that I approached him while pretending to assist him "but turned out to be the proverbial wolf".

He then rushes to state that he had never met me before. I wonder in what circumstances I would have attempted to assist Kuwaza in these circumstances when he was totally unknown to me.

Kuwaza finally suggests that my journalism should focus on "issues which advance the national agenda".

It is my opinion that it is a matter of national interest if a renowned British journalist relies on fabrications apparently fed to him by an ambitious deputy chairman at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who is seeking to be appointed governor of the same financial institution through subterfuge and political intervention, as appears to be the case here.

In his article, Kuwaza did not address any of the pertinent issues that I raised in my own articles.

He merely sought to malign me out of spite and anger after I exposed his role in Swain’s October 24 "scoop".

Last Friday, on November 19, I was invited by the National Press Club to participate in a debate on journalism ethics and professionalism at the Quill Club in Harare. During the proceedings two members of the audience angrily took me to task for submitting my article to The Herald for publication. I was taken aback by this. One of them told me after the meeting that he belonged to the MDC.

Since the formation of the MDC in 1999 and more so since the establishment of the government of national unity in 2009, the MDC has protested vehemently that Zimbabwe Newspapers and the ZBC have not provided adequate coverage of political parties or individuals other than Zanu-PF or Zanu-PF aligned.

The MDC has vigorously campaigned for coverage of its affairs in The Herald and on radio and television. In a democratic dispensation all media should provide equal coverage to all political organisations and interests. Yet here I was, being lambasted by an MDC politician for submitting an article to The Herald for publication.

From a different perspective, if the same MDC joined hands in 2009 with Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe’s now troubled government of national unity, why can’t I, as an individual, submit an article to be published in the Herald, given that the same article had been rejected by an independent newspaper, The Sunday Standard?