Director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) Keith Goddard has accused a Zimbabwean newspaper, Zimdaily, of irresponsible journalism, reports Behind The Mask.
This comes in the wake of a string of Zimdaily stories published a week ago about the organisation, including reporter Fikile Mapala writing about the sacking of Dumisani Dube – GALZ’s former Information and Publications Manager.
The story outlined allegations that Dube infected twelve colleagues with HIV and implicated one of Robert Mugabe’s cabinet members, Stan Medenge, as the person who infected Dube.
Goddard says that the claims in the articles are based almost entirely on hearsay, and reflect the newspaper’s overwhelming homophobia. He clarified that over a period of about a year three, and not twelve, complaints that alleged that Dube had knowingly infected the complainants with HIV were brought to the attention of GALZ.
“These were investigated under the organisation’s code of conduct,” said Goddard, also adding that Dube was first suspended in 2004 and finally dismissed in 2005.
While Zimdaily’s editor Munamato Maiswa stands by the stories, GALZ Programmes Manager Chesterfield Samba said that, “It has always been the case with the media in Zimbabwe that they publish negative things and baseless stories about our organisation.”
In one of the Zimdaily articles, former GALZ Health Services Manager Martha Thodlanah is said to have revealed to the paper that she had handled a total of 12 cases of GALZ members who claimed that Dube insisted on unprotected anal sex and even bribed them with cash.
However, an alarmed Thodlanah denied that Mapala ever contacted her. “I saw that story but I never said all the things that Fikile says I have said. I did not talk to him and I do not know where he got that information.”
Goddard told Behind The Mask that the allegations that Dube was infected by a government minister, and that this was revealed by a GALZ Operations Manager, are pure fabrication and dangerous libel.
While Goddard demanded a full retraction of the story and an apology from Mapala for having caused what he termed ‘severe and unnecessary stress’ to GALZ, Maiswa said that Goddard had never made any direct contact with his paper and that he is not retracting the story.
“We operate under the best standards in the land, even though our journalists have to operate in secrecy because of the situation in Zimbabwe right now. They have their way of finding information and at the end of the day the job is done,” said Maiswa.
In another Zimdaily article, Dube is said to be in hiding from the Central Intelligence Organisation of Zimbabwe because he has apparently threatened to expose names of six well known Zimbabwean cabinet ministers, priests and several ZANU PF officials whom he claims are gay.
By Nthateng Mhlambiso
Behind The Mask