via Journos told to campaign for Mupfumi – The Zimbabwean 24 June 2015
The newly elected Zanu (PF) Member of Parliament for Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency, Esau Mupfumi, has denied bussing a group of freelance journalists from Harare to assist in mobilising the electorate to vote for him in the recent by-election.
According to sources, a female freelance journalist coordinated the programme and told the other journalists that they would be acting as election observers, for which they would be paid. This was despite the fact that they had not been accredited as observers by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“Before we left Harare, we had enquired how we were going to observe the elections when we did not have accreditation but we were assured that all was in place as Mupfumi was well-connected,” said one source. They travelled to Mutare in one of Mupfumi’s buses. When they arrived Mupfumi told them that since they were not accredited, they were supposed to go and tell people queuing to vote for Zanu (PF).
“We were shocked when Mupfumi told us that we should go and tell people to vote for him,” said the source. The journalists were given accommodation and food at one of Mupfumi’s private lodges in Mutare before being bussed back to Harare on June 11. Some said Mupfumi was upset by their refusal to campaign for him and would not fork out money for them.
When contacted for comment, Mupfumi admitted that the journalists came from Harare to Mutare with his assistance, but denied that he tried to mobilise them to campaign for him.
“There is nothing like that. Of course the journalists came but they were not accredited to observe the elections and they did not do any duties. It was not me who invited them but they came on their own. As for me, I only provided them with assistance,” said Mupfumi. “I am the patron of journalists here and I always assist journalists with issues such as accommodation and transport. I don’t think there is an issue here. If you write the story you will only be embarrassing your fellows (journalists).”