By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Three days after insulting an Al Jazeera journalist with the words “F*ck You”, under-fire Zanu PF Director of Information Tafadzwa Mugwadi chickened out of an interview with seasoned journalist Violet Gonda claiming she is a known MDC activist who “hates the state”.
Zimbabweans reacted in horror as Mugwadi insulted Al Jazeera journalist Femi Oke during a virtual debate on her “The Stream” programme this week. Oke was reading comments from the audience before Mugwadi started laughing, interrupting her and said, “This is rubbish. F*ck you.”
Mugwadi was not done, on Wednesday he switched off from a live Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) discussion claiming that Gonda was an activist belonging to the main opposition MDC Alliance.
“I’m sorry I can no longer proceed with having this discussion. I felt it was a noble idea to have it from the start. We discussed it, it was a noble idea. I have issues with the person that you have called the panelist.
“I can’t be a discussant to a panelist that is handled by Violet Gonda. It is an unfair panel, she is an MDC activist that is known. She hates the State, she undermines this party you bring her as an interviewer, I don’t think this is right. I’m sorry count me out.
“Next time if you want to have a fruitful discussion, bring independent panelists or panelists from the opposition with credibility, not that one. I can’t proceed.
“I’m sorry to ZESN. We remain partners in working towards free and fair elections but this one no. If you can’t change then I can’t have this interview,” Mugwadi said.
Mugwadi is a former student leader at the University of Zimbabwe who was previously critical of the government before those close to him say he joined Zanu PF looking for employment.
Gonda is a renowned journalist. She worked as a broadcast journalist for over 15 years focusing on human rights, democracy, political and governance issues.
She has also worked as an independent reporter, news anchor and radio host in several countries including the UK, USA, South Africa and Zimbabwe. She is currently based in London.
Gonda is also the President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television.
IAWRT is the oldest global group of women broadcasters with a mission to advance the impact of women in media and grassroots communities.
The ruling Zanu PF government has always been confrontational to the media as evidenced by several arrests and detentions of journalists.
Last month journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who played a key role in exposing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his son Collins and his wife Auxilia in massive allegations of corruption was arrested.
The fallout saw the arrest and dismissal of the then Health Minister Obadiah Moyo who never spent a single day in jail. The journalist who helped blow the scandal is entering his fourth week in prison with countless bail applications so far having been denied on frivolous grounds. Nehanda Radio