CONTROVERSY over the resignation of career journalist Jonathan Maphenduka from the Media and Information Commission board came to a head this week when Maphenduka accused M
IC chair Tafataona Mahoso of manipulating board decisions.
Maphenduka called Mahoso a “blatant liar” who was trying to assassinate his character to retain his job.
“The MIC board is being manipulated to keep one man in employment,” said Maphenduka in a statement yesterday. “Whereas three years ago Dr Mahoso had nothing to his credit except his two feet, walking his way to the nearest commuter omnibus bus stop like most ordinary Zimbabweans, today he is driven home in a Mitsubishi Pajero and his gate is opened for him by a police officer. This new taste for luxury is his sole source of motivation,” Maphenduka said.
Until his appointment as chairman of the MIC, Mahoso was a pedestrian, easily identifiable on the pavements of Harare by his bulky Gladstone bag during his stint as chairman of the National Arts Council and the ZBC board. He was fired amid acrimony from the ZBC board.
Mahoso claimed this week that Maphenduka had resigned from the MIC because the United States embassy had denied him a visa to travel to the US.
“The claim by Dr Tafataona Mahoso that I told him I had been denied a visa by the US embassy is a blatant lie, a brazen and shameful fabrication designed to assassinate my character. If the US embassy officials have banned me from travelling to their country, they have not bothered to inform me,” Maphenduka said.
“The argument that the MIC board has taken collective decisions is ludicrous,” Maphenduka said accusing Mahoso of canvassing commissioners to reject the September 2003 application by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) for registration.
He said to keep his job, Mahoso manipulated most of the MIC’s decisions by making outlandish claims, especially in the case of the banned Weekly Times, which he said harboured secessionist ideas merely because of the name of the publishers.
Maphenduka said the decision to ban the fledgling weekly was made despite legal advice that there was no link between Mthwakazi Publishers and Mthwakazi UK and Mthwakazi On-Line.
He also revealed that legal experts had advised the MIC board there was no basis to deny the ANZ, publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, registration. The ANZ has spent close to $10 billion in legal fees in a protracted battle to get a licence to publish since its ban on September 13 two years ago.
In his press release on Monday, Mahoso accused Maphenduka of resigning from the MIC for expediency.
Mahoso said although Maphenduka claimed he had resigned because he did not agree with the “punitive determinations” made against errant mass media services, he had in fact agreed with all board decisions.
Maphenduka said he did not attend the board meeting that decided to deny the ANZ registration on September 17 2003.