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Published: October 11, 2009
Harare(ZimEye)Tarzan Mandizvidza, the man at the centre of the storm in the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) sex scandal has finally spoken to ZimEye about the case.
After weeks of trying to get hold of Mandizvidza, the ZBC general manager for news and current affairs accused of having sex with young interns and demoting seniors who resisted his advances, ZimEye finally caught up with him on Friday night.
Mandizvidza answered his mobile on the first attempt and went into a controlled rage when this correspondent introduced himself.
“You’ve been writing things about me, so why do you want me to comment now?” Mandizvidza fumed.
However, he seemed to calm down somewhat when he was told that his bosses at ZBC, chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere and board chairman Justin Mutasa had been contacted for weeks to comment on the matter but did not honour their promises to do so.
“I see,” he sighed. “Well, if they have set up a board to investigate me I think its best not to comment at this stage.”
Asked if he had or had not had sex with interns as alleged by the victims, Mandizvidza said the corporation’s communication policy prevented him from commenting on the ongoing case that has created waves. Only his bosses were empowered to speak to the press on the matter, he said.
Mandizvidza, along with reporters’ manager O’Brian Rwafa, is accused of forcing a number of interns and senior staffers at ZBC to have sex with him. The matter came to light when Mandizvidza allegedly sent an offensive text message to one of the interns, demanding sex. The intern reported the matter to the human resources department but instead of investigating, human resources manager Bernania Shumba sacked all female interns at the troubled corporation in a botched cover-up attempt.
Later, when it became apparent that the female interns had been victimized, Shumba also got rid of male interns. Shumba’s actions have led to fears that he will not be impartial in an internal investigation of the matter, which he now leads. The Federatiopn of African Media Women – Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) director Angela Makamure has called for an independent commission to investigate the matter.
The allegations against Mandizvidza and other senior executives at ZBC are that they would routinely ask staff members working under them to have sex with them. Some staff members claim that they yielded to these advances after being threatened with demotion or being fired from the parastatal.
The case became public after Mandizvidza was summoned by Shumba to respond to complaints from the interns.
Some radio and television presenters said they were being asked to pay with sex to go on air.
In what employees at ZBC said was a bizarre response to the scandal, Muchechetere has banned the wearing of trousers and mini skirts at ZBC apparently because the skimpy clothes were ‘tempting the bosses’.
In 2007, Mandizvidza’s wife reportedly left him after he allegedly got involved with a female employee at ZBC.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Mathew Takaona told ZimEye that he would write to information minister Webster Shamu demanding action on the matter as most of the affected employees were members of his union. (ZimEye, Zimbabwe)