Bulukani Masola threatens Fingaz scribe

via Businessman threatens Fingaz scribe | The Financial Gazette 7 Mar 2014

A PROPRIETOR with an indigenous company has threatened the Financial Gazette’s business reporter, Phillimon Mhlanga, over his investigations into a story on alleged corruption over the awarding of a pre-paid meter contract by power utility, ZESA Holdings.

Bulukani Masola, owner of Solahart which supplies ZESA’s subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), brandished a gun and threatened Mhlanga to stop his investigations into alleged corruption into the awarding of a pre-paid meters tender by ZESA.

Mhlanga, who had not been investigating Solahart but another company, Revma, also supplying pre-paid meters to ZETDC, said he had been threatened after visiting Masola at his Harare offices after he had requested a meeting with the journalist over the issue. Masola may have picked up information about Mhlanga’s investigation as he had not been contacted by the journalist.

Mhlanga said Masola’s interest and attempts to muzzle the investigation indicates that his company could also be part of the sleaze that has rocked the power utility recently. Solahart is one of the four companies that was to later win a supply tender for pre-paid meters after Revma’s disputed contract. Part of the investigation was carried in the newspaper’s edition this week. The investigation was over a company called Revma, which has been given a US$6 million tender for the supply of the pre-paid meters and a platform on which it was to operate.

Editor-in-Chief, Hama Saburi, described the threats as “shocking and appalling” and said the newspaper was not going to be distracted in its pursuit for the truth. “We are shocked and appalled with the threats against our journalist. We find it very unsettling and unacceptable, and condemn it in the strongest of terms,” Saburi said.

“First and foremost, the safety of our journalists and indeed all our other staff is of prime concern to us. As a company and as a newsroom, we are against the compromise of staff safety and security in any way by any one regardless of their standing in society, affiliations or temperament. Additionally, we are also concerned with such blatant attempts to muzzle the Press. We see this as a direct affront to Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression, democratic tenets which are enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.

Saburi said the newspaper had “set some processes in motion in efforts to seek redress in this matter including filing a police report”.

“The matter is now in the hands of relevant authorities. It is our hope that the authorities will help us by dealing justly and decisively with the matter and that the course of justice will take its course. That is critical if our affected journalist, the rest of our staff and even other journalists beyond our newsroom are to feel safe and protected by the laws of the country,” said Saburi.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary general, Foster Dongozi, said in a statement yesterday: “ZUJ condemns in very strong terms any reported abuses and threats to journalists and calls on individuals, organisations, political parties and authorities to desist from the uncouth behaviour of threatening journalists.”

Police confirmed yesterday that they were investigating the case, but could not give details until the matter is brought before the courts.