The publisher of a malicious and overzealous online media platform, ZimEye, Simba Chikanza has been exposed for trying to blackmail the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, by threatening to post off-the-record comments explaining why she cannot talk about certain issues unless she grants him a formal interview.
In a statement, the Director of Communications for the Office of the First Lady, Ms. Kudzai Gumbo, said Chikanza had called Amai Mnangagwa to question her on matters she believed were beyond her purview.
Ms Gumbo said the First Lady spoke to Chikanza in private, which is a standard of journalism and an ethical rule that allows the proposed interviewee, Amai Mnangagwa, to speak with journalists giving them the context of the issues and why she can’t talk about it.
“It is a tragic and terrible ethical violation of journalism for Simba Chikanza to then publicly blackmail the First Lady, demanding that she grant him an interview based on a threat to publish a confidential conversation,” she said.
Ms Gumbo said the First Lady has always been available to speak to reporters as she understands her role and duties obligatory to the nation.
“The First Lady also understands that she must enable journalists to do their job in a professional manner by being available when they need information related to her role and duties.
“However, it is unprofessional for reporters to force her to speak out on issues that she does not have the authority to speak out on, especially after she explained in a confidential conversation why she does not can’t do it,” she said.
Ms Gumbo said Chikanza’s attempt to blackmail Amai Mnangagwa into talking to her by using threats to publish a confidential conversation is the worst unethical breach in journalism.
“If he follows through on his threats, it will break the trust between the Office of the First Lady and the media, which Amai Mnangagwa does not want to happen,” she said.