The state controlled Sunday Mail and Sunday News newspapers have been forced to apologise to former Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chair Ray Kaukonde almost two years after publishing two articles titled “Ray Kaukonde in sex-for-power storm” and “Kaukonde in sex scandal”.
In a grovelling apology, the papers admitted they had made allegations that Kaukonde “was an unprincipled and immoral politician and leader, demanding sex from married and unmarried women in exchange for political positions, that he slept with a married member of the National Assembly, that he was a womaniser who had ruined many families, and was generally unworthy.”
The article further claimed that many women had succumbed to Mr Kaukonde’s demands and others had abandoned their political ambitions for the fear of sexual harassment by him.
The papers then say “It has come to our attention that the allegations appearing in the articles referred to above were completely and utterly untrue and were based on sources of information that have been established to have no credibility at all.
“Consequently, therefore, we hereby retract in their entirety the allegations in the articles and wish to apologise unreservedly to Mr Ray Joseph Kaukonde and his family for the damage done to his good name and reputation, and embarrassment and anguish caused by the publication,” the papers said.
Kaukonde had a spectacular fallout with First Lady Grace Mugabe that saw him lose his positions as both Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chair and Minister of State for the same province. At the height of the feud the First Lady publicly insulted Kaukonde at a rally in the province.
Kaukonde’s major sin was to have been backing a faction of the party that was then led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru. Adding salt to injury President Mugabe reportedly told his party’s politburo meeting that he borrowed $30 million from Kaukonde to fund his family business in 2008.