The publisher of a malicious and overzealous online media platform, ZimEye, Simba Chikanza has been exposed for attempts to blackmail the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, by threatening to release off the record comments explaining why she cannot speak on some issues unless she grants him a formal interview.
In a statement, Office of the First Lady director communications Ms Kudzai Gumbo said Chikanza called Amai Mnangagwa seeking to interview her on issues that she felt were out of her competence.
Ms Gumbo said the First Lady spoke to Chikanza off the record, which is a journalism standard and ethical rule that allows the proposed interviewee, Amai Mnangagwa, an opportunity to speak with journalists giving them context to issues and why she cannot speak on them.
“It is a tragic and terrible ethical breach of journalism for Simba Chikanza to then blackmail the First Lady publicly, demanding that she gives him an interview based on a threat to release an off-the-record conversation,” she said.
Ms Gumbo said the First Lady has always been available to speak to journalists since she understands her obligatory role and functions to the nation.
“The First Lady also understands that she needs to allow journalists to do their work professionally by being available when they need information related to her role and functions.
“However, it is unprofessional for journalists to force her to speak on issues which she has no authority to speak on, especially after she has explained in an off the record conversation why she can’t do so,” she said.
Ms Gumbo said the attempt by Chikanza to blackmail Amai Mnangagwa into speaking to him using threats to release an off the record conversation is the worst unethical breach in journalism.
“If he carries out his threats, it will break the trust between the Office of the First Lady and the media, something that Amai Mnangagwa doesn’t want to happen,” she said.