Civil society activist Mr Goodson Nguni has been fingered as the source behind a false NewsDay story that claimed that President Mugabe owed sacked former Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Mr Ray Kaukonde $30 million.
The money was reportedly loaned to the First Family to boost its business, the paper published by Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) claimed.
Citing unnamed and faceless sources, the paper claimed that President Mugabe told the Politburo meeting last Thursday that they must not be shocked that Mr Kaukonde might drag him to court over the $30 million, which he gave the First Family before the multi-currency regime in 2008.
President Mugabe, the paper claimed, indicated that he would soon settle the debt.
However, impeccable sources told The Herald yesterday that it was Mr Nguni, the leader of the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations (FONGO), who fed NewsDay the purported Politburo discussions despite the fact that he is neither a Zanu-PF official nor does he sit in the Politburo.
It is alleged after the Politburo meeting on Thursday that Mr Nguni told NewsDay reporter Richard Chidza about what he alleged transpired in the Politburo.
Chidza, the sources said, immediately texted some questions to Mr Kaukonde, seeking confirmation of Mr Nguni’s claims.
“However, (Mr) Kaukonde did not respond to the questions, instead he contacted Daily News senior staffer (Chris Goko) who contacted NewsDay telling them that their story was false and had many holes,” said the source.
The paper, however, proceeded to run the story regardless without seeking confirmation from Mr Kaukonde and Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Simon Khaya Moyo or Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba.
Contacted for comment yesterday on the consequences of fabricating such a story about the Head of State and Government, Mr Nguni dismissed the allegations as baseless.
He claimed he never spoke to NewsDay reporter Chidza for the past three weeks and that some people he declined to name were after destroying him.
“There are some people who are up to destroy me. I do not know what is happening here. I do not attend Politburo meetings so how do I know what transpires in those meetings? The writers of the story are there and if people want to know who told them, they should ask them,” he said.
Mr Nguni said inasmuch as he knew many Politburo members, no one shared with him discussions that transpired in their meetings.
“I do not know anything about that story. I do not like Kaukonde and (Dr) Joice Mujuru. I am Zanu-PF,” he said.
Chidza refused to comment yesterday, saying he was not allowed to speak to the media.
“Please leave me out of this. I am not allowed to speak to the Press,” he said.
NewsDay acting editor Wisdom Mdzungairi referred questions to AMH editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya who said he would not discuss how his stable gets stories.
Said Mr Kahiya: “Is that the journalism that you are being taught by (Pikirayi) Deketeke (Zimpapers chief executive) that you must phone other papers and ask how they get their stories? I was not in office when that story was done. How can we disclose our sources or tell you how we get our stories?”
AMH proprietor Trevor Ncube, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, after being confronted on twitter by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Professor Jonathan Moyo about the story, Mr Ncube promised to respond.
Goko said: “If you do not have comment from NewsDay editorial management team or the alleged writer that I got in touch with, then please do not try and mire me in your political chicanery.”
But close sources insisted that NewsDay proceeded to write the story knowing that it was false.
Said the source: “If they are asked to present copies of the contract signed between (President) Mugabe and Kaukonde, they will not produce anything. Surely during this time when businesspeople are rushing to invest money, how can they claim Kaukonde had $30 million in his vault to loan the President. This story cannot be defended in court.”
Politburo members who included Cde Khaya Moyo, Prof Moyo, national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere thrashed the story on Sunday.