via Ex-minister demands apology from Herald over false ZESA claims | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo October 28, 2013
Former energy minister and MDC-T official Elton Mangoma has demanded a retraction and an apology from the state-run Herald after the newspaper accused him of plotting to ‘kill’ the country’s sole power utility firm.
The two Herald reports come amid revelations that Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, is demanding that the Electricity Amendment Act 2013, which was passed just before the unity government expired, be withdrawn.
The paper reports that Zvoma is basing his argument for the withdrawal of the Act on grounds that the presidential assent for the Bill “was granted after the mandatory 21 days had lapsed, making the resultant Act a legal nullity.”
The Act provided for the unbundling of ZESA into smaller entities, a move which, it was hoped, would turn around the fortunes of the loss-making parastatal.
But the Herald sensationally claims that: “The planned unbundling and privatisation – which was reportedly being orchestrated by some officials at the Energy and Power Development Ministry in cahoots with former minister Mr Elton Mangoma – would have effectively put the critical power sector into the hands of unknown Western investors picked at Mr Mangoma’s discretion.”
These allegations have incensed the former minister who, through his legal team Mupanga Bhatasara Attorneys, has written a letter demanding the Herald to retract the “false” and “malicious” allegations.
The letter, excerpts of which are quoted on the MDC-T website, says “although in principle he (Mangoma) was not against freedom of expression and fair comment, the Herald articles typified, and “take the cup of gutter journalism’.”
Mangoma’s lawyers further stated: “These comments seem designed to damage the reputation of our client in the public eye and create public opprobrium towards said client.
“The comments contained in the said article by an unnamed and cowardly faceless reporter were recklessly predicated on sensationalism with a complete disregard to the truth.
“The story gives an impression of a clumsy hatchet job on the character of an outstanding public servant who is on record for having solved the perennial fuel crisis and had gone on to work tirelessly day and night (emphasis deliberate) to lessen the electricity shortages,” the lawyers said in the letter.
Mangoma’s lawyers threatened to take the Herald to court if the defamatory articles are not removed, in their entirety, from the paper’s website.
The lawyers also demanded an apology, “published in each of the platforms which have given or could give reason for our complaint”.
However, the two stories were still accessible on the Herald newspaper’s website by late Monday afternoon.