By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Controversial property developer, Ken Sharpe has pleaded with Media and Information minister Webster Shamu to force the Daily News to write positive stories about the controversial Zimbabwe Shopping Mall to be built on wetlands in Borrowdale.
Sharpe’s Augur Investments’ plans to build the mall have not yet been approved by the Environmental Management Authority (Ema), and the Harare City Council while residents around Borrowdale West area and residents associations have fiercely objected to the project.
Yesterday, Shamu took the unprecedented step of inviting Sharpe to the editors’ meeting where the businessman took time to attack the Daily News saying they were the only newspaper writing “negative stories” about the project.
Shamu also strangely apologised to Sharpe for the story which appeared in the Daily News on Sunday, July 8. “Of the 17 000 articles on Google, only the Daily News wrote a negative article of the project, we want positive coverage because we are bringing investment to the country,” Sharpe supported by Shamu told bemused editors.
But the Daily News editor, Stanley Gama who was in the meeting immediately hit back and told Shamu and Sharpe that the country’s most sought after newspaper had no obligation to write positive stories for anyone including Sharpe.
He told Shamu and Sharpe that the Daily News would not be silenced by politicians into writing positive news for Sharpe. He urged Sharpe to approach the Daily News not Munhumutapa offices if he was not happy with any stories about his project.
Speaking after the meeting Gama said: “What Sharpe and Minister Shamu did in trying to arm twist us in-front of all media houses is both unprofessional and clumsy. Sharpe forgets that Minister Shamu is not my boss and I don’t take instructions him or any other politician for that matter.”
“We stand by our story which is factual and correct. Our story made it clear that EMA and city councillors had not yet approved the project. The story also said residents were not happy that Augur wanted to build a huge mall on wetlands, and again it’s a fact. The documents are there for all to see.
“The Daily News will not be intimidated and we will continue to tell it like it is, without fear, without favour. Actually, we are being told that the story on the project is bigger than we thought and our investigations team will dig even deeper. The Minister and Sharpe can and will never intimidate us,” said Gama.
It later turned out that Shamu had been roasted by President Robert Mugabe in cabinet on Tuesday over the state media’s lies that the Prime Minister’s wife had travelled to India when infact he was in Budiriro.
Shamu’s initial brief was to warn journalists against writing unsubstantiated news on politicians but decided to divert attention and included Sharpe to attack the Daily News to avoid the Prime Minister’s wife issue. Daily News