SABC Fires Supa Mandiwanzira

September 13, 2007

Grahamstown South Africa's State broadcaster SABC has taken a decision to fire its Zimbabwe correspondent Supa Mandiwanzira for his alleged involvement in a Zanu (PF) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) sting operation against Roman Catholic prelate Bishop Pius Ncube.

Speaking at the sidelines of the ongoing Highway Africa, a conference of 500 top African journalists meeting here, senior SABC sources told ZimDaily that Mandiwanzira's fate had been sealed over his "appalling and unprofessional conduct" in his handling of the Catholic Bishop's sex scandal.

The SABC sources said the communication had been sent to Mandiwanzira, but ZimDaily was unable to immediately establish if he had received his dismissal letter as he was said to be in the US at the time of going to print.

SABC head Snuki Zikalala, who is also here for the conference, declined comment referring questions to Kaizer Kganyago, spokesman for the SABC. Kganyago was unavailable for comment. But he was quoted by SA newspaper Business Day yesterday saying the broadcaster had cut ties with Mandiwanzira, a proxy and known supporter of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party.

Kganyago said the SABC was setting up its own bureau in Harare with its own staff and had severed ties with Mandiwanzira, whose company Mighty Movies had a contract to feed the SABC news desk with reports from Zimbabwe.

Mandiwanzira two weeks ago battled to whitewash his involvement in the sting operation through a long, winding and incoherent article that was replete with contradictions.

Wrote Mandiwanzira: "It's perfectly understandable if some people want to save their own, but to try and make some ludicrous allegations that I work for the CIO, or that I was following a directive from the CIO is just not on. The fact of the matter is that I offered the story to the SABC and they commissioned it. Was it a credible story? Yes it was and the SABC found it interesting and they wanted it covered."

But it was not the credibility of the story that was at question but Mandiwanzira's unprofessional conduct.

Mandiwanzira falsely used the SABC to secure an interview with the Archbishop, and then led journalists from Zimbabwe's state media whom the bishop would usually not have granted an interview.

Mandiwanzira, together with Happison Muchechetere, head of the still born 24/7 propaganda station and Tazzen Mandizvidza, editor-in-chief of ZBC, masterminded the sting operation using equipment from ZBC's Bulawayo studios at Montrose.

Mandiwanzira gave SABC jackets to the two colleagues and then approached Ncube claiming to be from SABC.

They then tricked the gullible Archbishop into answering questions about the conduct of Catholic Bishops in the USA who had broken their celibacy vows to which the Bishop replied: "Everybody is a sinner; there is nobody who does not sin."

That statement was then twisted to seem as if he had been responding to a question on whether he had an adulterous relationship with Rosemary Sibanda, the woman whose husband is now suing the Bishop for Z$20 billion.

Ncube resigned this week from his position as the Archbishop of Bulawayo. He however remains a catholic Bishop.


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