Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) Statement on Published Defamatory Articles
The TI Z Board notes with concern the publication of malicious articles ostensibly aimed at ‘exposing the rot’ of corruption at the institution. The articles, authored by Mr Byron Mutingwende, make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and other accusations only meant to deliberately damage the reputation of TI Z, its board, management and staff as well as its working partners. It is our view that Mutingwende’s anger and vicious attacks on the organization started on the termination of his relationship with TI Z as a contributor. His first reaction was to threaten that he should be kept on a monthly retainer of $300, failure to which he would expose all the dirt he had on the organization. We have this information as evidence contained in the WhatsApp messages to TI Z staff.
TI Z would like to categorically state that the sensational heading of “Shocking Corruption at TI Z” is grossly defamatory as there is no corruption taking place at TI Z shocking or otherwise. Mr Mutingwende’s articles not only reveal a malicious and vindictive intent but also the statements are untrue, they are full of falsehoods, fabrications and unsubstantiated allegations. For direct responses to all the false allegations referred to by Mutingwende, TI Z invites all interested persons to visit our website www.tizim.org
As a freelance journalist who has assignments from several other civil society organizations Mr Mutingwende only worked on articles on an ad hoc basis for TI Z. It is misleading of him to claim that he was an employee and that he had the title of Communications Consultant. This position has never existed in the organization. Having introduced himself to the organization as a freelance journalist looking for a more permanent organization with TI Z it is curious that he now claims to have been working undercover.
Of particular concern, however are the bold yet unsubstantiated assertions of gross mismanagement at TIZ which Mr Mutingwende claims, which without the requisite evidence as demanded by the levels of journalistic expertise he purports to possess, could easily lend themselves to defamation and libel at law. Mr Mutingwende accuses TI Z of having a corrupt hiring culture which comprises of nepotism, cronyism and tribalism without demonstrating that he has any understanding of our recruitment policy nor providing examples of how people were hired based on said friendships, tribe or relations. What is of further concern about his behaviour is evidence we have received in the past few weeks that he is contacting former employees harassing them into feeding into his fabrications. At least three former employees have called to inquire why they are being harassed.
Another falsehood of Mr Mutingwende’s is his claim that TI Z is funding social movements Tajamuka and This Flag. TI Z’s only involvement with these social movements has been to agree with their statements on the state of corruption in the country. TI Z is neither a funding institution nor a sub grantor. We do not have any funding relationship or capacity to fund any other entity.
Owing to the apparent failure on the part of Mr Mutingwende to proffer substance to such assertions, we have since consulted our legal advisors in the direction of instituting proceedings against such reckless and unwarranted attack of our good name and reputation. While we respect freedom of expression we think Mr Mutingwende has handled himself unprofessionally and with unwarranted malice contrary to his claims that he is doing this as his duty as an upstanding citizen concerned about abuse of donor funds and incompetence.
Our further intention is also to seek guidance on complaints procedure pertaining to violation of the media code by Mr Mutingwende as it is our conviction that freedom of expression should also go with responsibilities such as being factual, truthful and non-prejudicial.
As an institution, we strive to remain open, accountable to our stakeholders as well as amenable to scrutiny and critique that assist us to more effectively and efficiently deliver on our mandate. Indeed, as evidenced by concurrent independent financial audits and institutional assessments, TI Z continues a pathway to optimize effectiveness and efficiency in its operations as well as in realisation of its institutional goals. We do however take great exception and will not give credence to malicious and hollow constructs aimed at unjustifiably discrediting the institution and derailing progress in its core mandate.
We remain forever indebted to our partners and members who have seen through this charade and have continued inspiring us to stay focused in the backdrop of such unsolicited distractions.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) BOARD