ZAA suffers vicious attacks for failing to advertise at Newzimbabwe.com

A war of words has broken out between the founder and CEO of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA) Conrad Mwanza and the editor of the New Zimbabwe.com website Mduduzi Mathuthu.\r\n

 

This follows what Mwanza felt was an unjustified attack on the awards ceremony held last Saturday. The article headlined ‘UK Awards a noble shambles’ said the awards were “shambolic and amateurish with a touch of glamour.’

Journalist Henry Makiwa said this was “the most apt bitter-sweet description” of the awards held at London’s swanky Mermaid Theatre Centre. “For all its noble intentions, top notch venue facilities and star attraction, the event fell face down where it mattered most: the award presentations,” he wrote.

Writing on his facebook page Mwanza said ‘Interesting read from New Zim.com and I welcome the criticism, you can only improve and learn from such criticism speaking on behalf of the 98% of the people who attended, I would say they had a good time and far from shambles.”

“Criticism is good and welcomed but the article seemed more destructive and dismissive than constructive, I bet someone who didn’t attend would think lights were turned off and people evacuated from the building. I know New Zim has tried to put up events before to disastrous results, I challenge them to put up a better show?”

Mwanza was referring to the July 2006 New Zimbabwe.com 3rd Anniversary celebrations which flopped after star attraction and South African Kwaito star Mdu did not show up for some shows as  promised. Legendary Radio 2 DJ and TV personality Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda wrote a stinging blog explaining how New Zimbabwe.com messed up.

Below we reproduce the article in full

Ezra “Tshisa’ on the New Zimbabwe.com show that flopped

Thursday 13 July 2006

The Editor of New Zimbabwe.com Mduduzi Mathuthu approached me as an old friend to find a band to perform at the 3rd Anniversary of his website sometime in April this year. He had tried without luck to bring Mafikizolo and heavyweight Dj Oskido, for reasons l cannot disclose.

He asked me to get Mdu the Kwaito artist, as he desperately needed a group for his ‘celebrations’. I called Mdu in South Africa who had a tight schedule and asked him to cancel his SA shows to come to UK for Mathuthu’s celebrations.

After several pleas on the phone with the South African artist, I managed to convince him to cancel his busy schedule. I negotiated a contract for Mathuthu and managed to reduce Mdu’s performance fees by 40% as l thought l was helping a friend and brother celebrate his 3rd Anniversary.

After securing the contract from Mdu l gave it to Mathuthu who signed and returned it to Mdu in South Africa. One will assume Mathuthu with his journalistic ‘knowledge’ and as an editor of a ‘news’ website he would have read and understood the contents of any contract before signing it.

The signed contract clearly stated all the requirements, which were to be met by the promoter. By signing the contract, which enabled Mdu to come to UK, Mathuthu had an obligation to fulfill what was required by the agreement/contract. Mdu prepared himself for the UK gigs, sent passport details of his group and himself which l then forwarded to Mathuthu to apply for work permits.

Mdu then asked me to manage him and look after his interest in UK, as he was not going to be travelling with his manager and engineer. Which was well and good, as this would cut Mathuthu’s costs.

MDU confirmed this development by a text message (SMS) to Mathuthu who was rather excited about that as he knew his costs would be cut. However my being appointed MDU’s manager did not go down well with one, Fungwa Mawarire from Zimtownship promotions that sent a nasty email to Mdu and me.

Apparently he was querying why Mdu appointed me as his manager. The e-mail also was somewhat a threat telling me not to interfere with their djs, not to renegotiate anything with Mdu on behalf of other promoters whilst in UK, not to talk to the so called press, not to give anyone free access to the venues, not to promote the shows on my Radio Station unless given express permission by them (Zimtownship) and that l was not to pick and drive Mdu during his UK stay.

The e-mail shocked Mdu as he wondered who Pfungwa was and the relevance of the contents of his e-mail to the Mathuthu (newzimbabwe.com) deal. Mdu was bamboozled by this development so much that he even threatened to cancel the UK trip.

It now appeared as if he was duped into agreeing to perform for Mathuthu for a reduced fee when in fact he was being used by Zimtownship Promotions I replied to Fungwa Mawarire’s e-mail telling him about my relationship with Mdu and other SA musicians, to which he responded by a (SMS) message saying he was misunderstood.

As a public figure and entertainer I always wish the best for those in showbiz and many who I do business with. Before MDU left South Africa was paid a deposit and this was after a series of telephone calls to the promoters who had been promising that someone would be paying him in SA.

At one stage we were told the person had gone to Mozambique, and would pay MDU when he returns, however this ghost person never showed up. When they were reminded about the contract, which clearly states that a deposit shall be paid to Mdu upon signing of the contract, Fungwa Mawarire sent the deposit by money gram to SA.

Mdu acknowledged receiving it. When l demanded work permits l was told they were ready and they will be faxed directly to Mdu’s office. It turned out that never happened nothing was faxed to Mdu office. Two days before the shows still no work permits, Mdu’s office was on my case demanding l send the permits or they would be unable to come.

When l contacted the person whom Pfungwa Mawarire had approached to acquire the permits, I found out that he was in Ghana for holidays and he told me they (Newzimbabwe & Zimtownship) never paid for the permits that is why he never bothered to apply for the permits.

Mawarire being a crafty character then concocted a letter of invitation Mathuthu used the Newzimbabwe.com letter headed paper to write the letter inviting Mdu and Mashamplani to ATTEND the 3rd Anniversary of the website as guests, no mention of him and his group performing.

This was illegal as Mdu was here to perform and people were paying to attend the shows ‘anniversary’. What I find disappointing is the fact that Mdu’s fans and newzimbabwe.com website readers are not told the truth about the UK trip.

I am appalled by the negative story, unbalanced reporting, unfounded allegations written by an editor of a website of such magnitude (ignore the fact that he is a self-proclaimed-editor). This is a website which thousands of people across the world trusted and believed was the source of well researched, truthful and balanced news, run by a professional and focused JOURNALISTS who abide by journalistic ethics.

On the day that Mdu was leaving SA, he was offered the balance but, Mdu remembered the hustle he endured trying to get the deposit, so he told them not to worry about it given that they had ‘the cash in hand’ it was easier to hand it over to him on arrival at the airport in the morning.

This would have also helped them save the money they would have used pay to send the cash to SA. Indeed Mdu requested a first class ticket, and was subsequently told the economy tickets were already bought.

The important thing at the end of the day was that MDU came to the UK asked for a 7-sitter car since he wanted to rest as he had to perform on the same day of his arrival and he never refused a Mercedes saloon when he landed at Heathrow Airport, as it was never offered on the day.

At the airport Dj Pius Nkomo welcomed Mdu and l arrived immediately after Mdu had landed. We boarded a Vauxhall Astra with Mdu and his band sitting at the back, plus Pius’ friend.

All in all we were six in a 5-sitter car and Mdu, as an understanding person never said anything as we were promised a hired bigger car was to meet us on the way to the hotel. On our way to the hotel DJ-Pius, was stopped by police, arrested and taken away as they had a warrant of arrest for him for an offence committed sometime.

Everyone in the car was checked for status luckily we were all clean. Mdu was complaining of tiredness as they had flown for 12 hours and it was already around 1100 in the morning. Police checked if l was insured so as to allow me to drive Pius’ car. I was given the all clear, and then l drove to a point where we met Pfungwa Mawarire.

We all got into Pfungwa’s Mercedes Saloon car to the hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel it turned out that the hotel was not yet ready, we then went to Stratford Centre to kill off time, and allow Pfungwa time to sort out the hotel bookings. Around 1400hrs on Friday the day of the show we managed to check into Holiday Inn Express Stratford.

At the hotel Mdu asked for Mathuthu but he was nowhere to be found, he then approached Pfungwa Mawarire who promised to bring Mdu’s balance later in the evening before Mdu left the hotel for the show. Mdu stayed in his hotel room and around 0100hrs Pfungwa came and pleaded with Mdu to go and perform.

Mawarire promised that he would make sure that Mdu gets his balance. He later offered £1000 at the venue and promised to pay the balance of £2000 after the performance. Mdu and Mashamplan gave a tantalizing and electrifying show despite poorly attended. Mdu went on and on until the venue owners told him the time was up and he should stop.

However our self-proclaimed journalist cum editor chose not to mention this in his pathetic attempt at an apology in his new column (Stories from Many Places) He had played for 1hr 20 minutes and normally he performs for two hours.

One wonders why Mathuthu only mentions Decibel in his column as if Mdu never performed, it makes fans who attended sick as they are amazed at the blatant and sickening bias topped with gross inaccurate reporting about the London gig. People who are into showbiz are also disappointed about the Newzimbabwe.com story so are Mdu’s fans who have dismissed the website’s story as a pack of lies.

Strangely after Mdu’s performance Mathuthu and Pfungwa came and congratulated Mdu praising him for his wonderful performance. In the morning Pfungwa came to Mdu and I to discuss about the Bradford show. Pfungwa told us the balance is ready in Bradford and he did not have money on him.

When asked what assurance was there, Pfungwa promised Mdu saying the cash will be handed over to him when we check into the hotel in Bradford. Pfungwa went on to say if Mdu did not receive his balance in Bradford he should not leave the hotel for the show.

After listening carefully to Pfungwa l managed to convince Mdu to go as I trusted him and even told him he should not hire a car as he was happy to use his Mercedes Saloon to cut down expenses. Pfungwa was so grateful that he even mentioned to Mathuthu and I that Mdu was an understanding guy.

This is a person who had called me all sorts of names in his e-mail to Mdu, who did not want me to help him in anyway even driving, but now Pfungwa was the one asking me to drive Mdu and Mashamplan in his own car, what a turnabout!

Being a person brought up in a people loving/considerate African society I harbour no evil so despite all that was said to me by Pfungwa l obliged and drove his car safely to Bradford. Pfungwa Mawarire did not say anything regarding payment when we got to Bradford; he only told us that he would be back as he was going to the venue.

We waited and waited in the hotel for them to pay the balance from 6pm till 2300hrs when l received a text message from Pfungwa saying ‘its cold’ meaning few people were in attendance. I did not respond to the (sms) as l expected him to come to the hotel and speak to Mdu.

At around 0200hrs Mathuthu came to the hotel found me in my room and asked me to negotiate with Mdu about his balance, as they could not raise enough cash to pay him. I went with Mathuthu to Mdu’s room and l tried my best to convince Mdu to go and perform, Mdu told Mathuthu they had not fulfilled or met any of his demands as per the signed contract, they never obliged to any conditions of the contract, they breached the contract from the onset and he had been flexible enough and had stretched him to the limit.

Mdu wanted them to pay, as he no longer trusted them. In London it was Pfungwa who was negotiating, Bradford Mathuthu, so what was happening, the dealing and empty promises were now not only exposed but exhausted Mathuthu and Mawarire now had no legs to stand on no lies to tell and Mdu refused to go on stage as he sensed the pair were up to no good.

 Imagine someone coming to re-negotiate with an artist in the early hours of morning, without even a penny on them how long will that take? Mdu and his Mashamplan were ever ready to perform. I went with Mdu to the venue not to perform but just to see, as he wanted to tell his fans what had happened.

He never felt sorry about the two damaged small speakers but he felt sorry for a few people who were robbed of their hard earned cash. Obviously he is not naive to believe a Sound System Company will risk and own a PA system without insurance especially in UK. He was sorry for his fans. After the show Pfungwa refused to speak to us saying he was tired and wanted to sleep. In the morning he ignored all our calls and knocks in his room.

Mathuthu knowing he will face the problems alone alerted us that Pfungwa was about to run away from us so it was important we wake up to go and see him and get our balance. Pfungwa hid in his room so we went to the hotel reception and pretended we lost our key for room 43 they gave us another card key.

We knocked first he kept quite then we opened the door and he jumped, appearing terrified and shaken. Mdu asked about his balance, Pfungwa became petrified and he was trembling I assured him he should not panic as nobody will harm him. He should know that in life you do not run away from your problems but you should learn to solve them.

Mdu asked him why he did not come to talk to him personally if he was experiencing financial problems than to hide in his room. Pfungwa had packed his bag and said he had only £15 in his pocket, there was no way he could pay Mdu’s balance or even pay for Mdu’s transport back to London and accommodation for two days before they returned to SA on Tuesday 11 July.

We called Mathuthu to our meeting with Pfungwa trying to find a solution to our transport problem, but Mathuthu was just on Pfungwa’s side even refusing to reason with anything we said. Pfungwa lied to Mdu saying he did not have a car as his Mercedes, which we used, had the rear windscreen damaged by angry fans.

We requested to see the car but he refused, l called the Bradford Police to check if a report on the damaged car had been made, after giving them the registration of Pfungwa’s car they told me no such report was made, they had only been called in to disperse a few angry people in MALBOROUGH FUNCTION HALL Bradford.

I knew Pfungwa’s car was insured and there was no way he would not report it damaged if it truly was for the purposes of insurance. Imagine the so-called ‘NUMBER ONE’ promotions company Zimtownship (given that status by Newzimbabwe.com) ITS DIRECTOR looking for sympathy and lying to an artist about his car that is truly outrageous, disgusting and shameful to say the least.

When we requested Mathuthu to help transport Mdu and Crew to Coventry not even to London where a good friend of mine would have given me his car to drive to London he refused saying he was rushing to take his friend to Cardiff Wales for work.

We asked him where his priorities were but he would not budge. However, Mathuthu’s friend who told me it was not true that he was rushing to work; Mathuthu only wanted to go and watch world cup football at home and baby-sit his child.

This is was Editor and journalist of Newzimbabwe.com at his best lying to an artist who came to UK to celebrate Newzimbabwe.com’s 3rd Anniversary. Can you imagine after signing and getting all the favours from Mdu, Mathuthu refused to transport and drop him in Coventry en-route to Cardiff?

Mdu is not a desperate musician, he owns Wolla Music, a production company, he is a true top musician and business man with lots of assets in South Africa, well known icon and pioneer of kwaito music and did not deserve to be treatment he received from Mathuthu and Pfungwa. He let them go and said the almighty God will judge them as they think they are clever and untouchable.

Mdu used his money to buy food for everyone; we were left outside the hotel not even knowing where to go. We finally found the coach station where we purchased bus tickets to London. We arrived in London around 1945hrs rushing to watch football.

We went to a Holiday Inn Express hotel in Canning town thinking they sorted the accommodation only to discover Pfungwa’s card, which he used to book, was declined for insufficient funds. Mdu paid £628 for the rooms for two nights for his group and also bought food during their stay.

Pfungwa and Mathuthu never bothered or make a phone call to check their well being. Mathuthu should not be short-sighted and foolish forgetting that he wrote a letter of invitation for Mdu & Co. using his website’s letterhead (don’t forgot illicitly), signed the contract as Pfungwa’s front and hence he had an obligation to feed and accommodate them or maybe we should say his handlers had.

If Mdu was cruel like them, he would have simple surrendered to the nearest police station, produced the letter of invitation and Mathuthu would have been in big trouble with the law in this country.

Mdu and l were silent about the issue but for them after doing all that damage, to go on and write rubbish, empty story which do not make sense at all to readers about what took place at this mother of all flops (anniversary) could not go unchallenged.

Surely if Mathuthu is a trained journalist (which we all by now know his is not) it could have clicked to him his story did not make any sense, he had nothing to write he fell far short of telling the truth about the event and did not even come close to apologizing for his wrongs he even had the audacity to claim in his pathetic article (Stories from Many Places) that he threatened Mdu saying and I quote: 10pt”I had told him that if he didn’t go on that stage, he should count this as his last ever visit to the UK.”

This is preposterous Mathuthu should be serious since when is he the British Home office Newzimbabwe and Zimtownship acted like clowns, they are not men enough to swallow their pride and apologise to Mdu and the people who were robbed in Bradford. Mathuthu and Fungwa should know they are human beings like everybody else and should not think they are always right.

Ezra “Tshisa’ Sibanda, Thursday 13 July 2006.