Self-proclaimed prophet, Emmanuel Makandiwa, has declared war on the Daily News and effectively wants the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to shut down Zimbabwe’s top newspaper after encouraging the media body to “punish the Daily News”.
Makandiwa has approached ZMC, the body that is in charge of regulating media houses and accrediting journalists, seeking severe punishment for the paper.
Among its powers, ZMC can deregister newspapers.
The Daily News has previously been shut down by the government. The latest astonishing move by the controversial preacher comes soon after he withdrew his High Court action against the paper.
Following discussions between legal representatives of the Daily News and the preacher, Makandiwa’s team went on a surprising offensive, concocting the can of events that had led to the discussions between the two parties.
In a venom laced letter to ZMC, Makandiwa’s lawyers are nudging the media regulatory body to use its powers under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) to punish the paper for failing to re-publish an apology over an error that appeared on the Daily News’ poster in December last year.
The poster read “Anglican Saga sucks in Makandiwa” instead of “Anglican Saga sucks in Banks.”
The group editor of the Daily News, Stanley Gama has however, hit back saying Makandiwa was being economic with the truth.
Gama said by appealing to the ZMC, Makandiwa and his lawyers were taking an evil root of having the Daily News closed down and expressed concern that the so-called man of God was working with opponents of democracy to destroy the popular newspaper over a minor issue.
Makandiwa who is breathing fire in his latest stand-off with this paper is calling upon ZMC to use its powers under chapter 10:27 of the loathed Aippa to deregister newspapers that “are reckless”.
This is despite the fact that the Daily News not only published a retraction but Gama wrote a personal letter to the controversial but fabulously rich preacher explaining the error.
Part of the venomous letter to the ZMC reads: “We are aware that your function as the Media Commission is to promote and enforce good practices and ethics in the press. We therefore request that you investigate and if you find that there is substance in our complaint, you must punish the newspaper,” reads part of Makandiwa’s letter.
Makandiwa who has a cult status in the country — claims the Daily News whose reporters have won national accolades is “abusing and tarnishing the media fraternity.”
“We request therefore that you get to the bottom of this matter and mete out an appropriate penalty,” Makandiwa, who has promised to walk on Lake Kariba and claims to heal the blind and the crippled said.
Makandiwa who enjoys a glitzy and glamorous lifestyle cruising in top-of-the-range vehicles and living large in Harare’s affluent suburbs notwithstanding the sea of poverty surrounding him, says the Daily News is “unruly” and should be “reined in”.
The letter written on March 28, deliberately omits useful information including that the Daily News apologised before he even approached the High Court. Makandiwa who claims to have powers to perform logic-defying miracles, was also demanding $2 million from the Daily News, alleging the newspaper had defamed him by linking him to a property feud which once rocked the Anglican Church.
Although the Daily News published an apology immediately after the error, Makandiwa remained dissatisfied, leading to him seeking recourse from the courts.
This was also despite the fact that on December 5, 2012, Gama also wrote a personal letter to Makandiwa, explaining and apologising for the error.
Part of the letter read: “The publication of the poster was a genuine error on our part, for which we sincerely apologise.”
“The error came about because the previous day, the Daily News had a poster with the name Makandiwa and when fresh posters were being designed, the sub-editors mistakenly did not replace ‘Makandiwa’ with ‘Banks.’
“The impression given to the general reader (following the publication of the story Makandiwa Withdraws) is that our client is fond of litigating and that he withdrew the matter at the last minute after realising that his action had no prospects of success.
“The correct position is however, that the matter was withdrawn on the basis of a settlement,” reads part of the letter to ZMC.
Gama said what was particularly strange about the whole saga was that Makandiwa and his team appeared not be telling the whole truth about the issue.
“I am very perplexed that somebody who would want to be seen as righteous and good standing in society, goes to this extent to start a war to make life our difficult.
“I insist that Makandiwa saw it coming that his case was weak and decided to withdraw but because he has multitudes of people who worship him, he could not be seen to be bending down to the Daily News. I was surprised that two days before he withdrew the case in March this year, my private letter explaining the error to Makandiwa was read out in church in March, yet I had written the letter on December 5, last year.
He gave his followers the impression that the letter had just been written.
“To me this was malice intended to create the impression that he had withdrawn the case because we had apologised just before the court case. The Daily News on December 3, last year, published an apology over the error yet Makandiwa and his lawyers still went to court demanding money.
Again, I fail to understand why this man continues to pursue us.
“I also want to advice Makandiwa that he is taking advice from the wrong people who have their own agendas and I am particularly referring to his lawyer, Nickiel Mushangwe.
“For example, when we went for the pre-trial conference on March 4, 2013 before Justice Bhunu and Justice Mangota, Mushangwe was clearly embarrassed when he was grilled by the two learned judges why he had failed to follow simple High Court procedures.
“Right now, Mushangwe is allowing Mr Makandiwa to ignorantly approach the Zimbabwe Media Commission yet the commission has a complaints committee and more importantly there is the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe.
“By going to ZMC, it means Makandiwa has other ideas other than resolving this matter amicably,” said Gama.
“We do have a message to Mr Makandiwa. We will defend ourselves vigorously — and if his mission is to close us, let it be recorded that this will fail dismally,” Gama added.
The Daily News group editor added that Makandiwa should not take advantage of his “miracle powers” to threaten newspapers and journalists and should instead concentrate on spreading the word of God.