PR firm exposes minister

Source: PR firm exposes minister | The Herald

Daniel Nemukuyu: Senior Court Reporter

IT has emerged that Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge lied that Fruitful Communications Private Limited was doing Public Relations Consultancy work for Zesa for free after the company owned by Zanu-PF Highfield legislator Psychology Maziwisa and television personality Oscar Pambuka issued summons at the High Court claiming an outstanding fee of $36 000 from the parastatal.Fruitful Communications did PR work for Zimbabwe Power Company, a Zesa subsidiary. It was Minister Undenge who directed Zesa to engage Fruitful Communications. Interestingly, Minister Undenge told The Herald on May 12 last year that Fruitful Communications was offering its services to Zesa for free.

“They are people in public relations and there is no formal contract with anyone and if anyone wants to help for free, we allow them to do that,” he said.

“They felt they wanted to explain something to the public. It is just like you, you write a lot of things, but we do not pay you,” he said then.

In its summons at the High Court, Fruitful Communications suggests its being owed by Zesa for work done. It was hired despite Zesa Holdings’ subsidiaries having fully-fledged PR departments. Hussein Ranchod and Company is representing Fruitful Communications in the High Court case.

The plaintiff’s declaration states that in February last year, ZPC engaged the services of Fruitful Communications as their public relations consultant to “air news items and features” on television and radio stations.

Fruitful Communications claims it offered various services to ZPC with the power company undertaking to pay all the bills.

Despite demand, Fruitful Communications claims, ZPC has refused to pay the bill that amounted to $36 000.

On February 6, 2016, Fruitful Communications claim that they performed some public relations work which was aired on news bulletins on Power FM Radio.

Two weeks later, Fruitful Communications featured on Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM and National FM news bulletins, doing public relations for ZPC. On February 22, the consultants featured on the television programme “Media Watch” talking about Kariba water levels.

The consultancy firm is claiming payment for its appearance on ZBC’s Good Morning Zimbabwe programme on March 2, 2016.

On March 7, the consultants claim that they featured on ZTV Lunchtime News and Power FM News bulletin, doing ZPC’s work. On March 19, 22 and 27, Fruitful Communications claims it rendered services to ZPC by speaking on behalf of the power company on Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM and National FM during news time.

On April 8, the consultancy represented ZPC on ZTV lunch time news and also spoke during a Zimbabwe International Trade Fair interview.

Fruitful Communications is also claiming payment for representing ZPC’s participation on a programme called Power Talk with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe on April 18.

On April 29, May 7 and May 10 last year, the consultancy firm claims it spoke on behalf of ZPC on Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM and National FM radio news. Before filing a response to the lawsuit, ZPC lawyers Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandewere have requested to be furnished with further particulars to the case from Fruitful Communications.

“Was the engagement reduced in writing or oral? If written, a copy thereof is requested. If it was oral, who acted for the defendant (ZPC)? What were the full terms of the agreement?”

ZPC also seeks clarification on what Fruitful Communications meant by the phrase “news items and features”. The power company also wants to know how Fruitful Communications arrived at the figure $36 000.

Fruitful Communications is yet to file the further particulars before ZPC files a proper response to the suit.