First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has warned Simba Chikanza, the editor of the online publication Zimeye, against attempting to blackmail her into granting him an interview.
In a statement issued on Sunday, 15 May, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, Kudzai Gumbo revealed that the First Lady spoke with Chikanza “off the record” and made it clear that she had no authority to speak about issues the journalist wanted to talk about.
Chikanza had on Sunday warned Mnangagwa that if she failed to reach out to him to finish the conversation they had, he would reveal their “incomplete video call”. Tweeted Chikanza:
Dear Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa, if you don’t call me and we finish our interview, I’m going to be left with no other option than to reveal your (incomplete) VIDEO CALL to me running over 35 minutes long. I’m giving you 8hs after which I will have no option but make the public watch.
In a statement issued on Sunday, 15 May, in response to Chikanza’s threat, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, Kudzai Gumbo revealed that the First Lady spoke with Chikanza “off the record” and made it clear that she had no authority to speak about issues the journalist wanted to talk about. Pindula News is publishing Gumbo’s statement in full below:
Simba Chikanza of Zimeye online media platform called the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Mai Auxilia Mnangagwa, wanting to interview her on issues that the First Lady felt were out of her competence.
The First Lady spoke to Simba Chikanza off the record, which is a journalism standard and ethical rule that allows the proposed interviewee, Mai Mnangagwa, an opportunity to speak with journalists giving them context to issues and why she can’t speak on them.
It is a tragic and terrible ethical breach of journalism for Simba Chikanza to then blackmail the First Lady publicly, demanding that she gives him an interview based on a threat to release an off the record conversation.
The First Lady has always been available to speak to journalists because she understands her obligatory role and functions to the Nation.
The First Lady also understands that she needs to allow journalists to do their work professionally by being available when they need information related to her role and functions.
However, it is unprofessional for journalists to force her to speak on issues on which she has no authority to speak, especially after she has explained in an off the record conversation why she can’t do so.
The attempt by Simba Chikanza to blackmail Mai Mnangagwa into speaking to him using threats to release an off the record conversation is the worst unethical breach in journalism.
If he carries out his threats, it will break the trust between the Office of the First Lady and the media, something that Mai Mnangagwa doesn’t want to happen.