By Staff Reporter
ZBC editor in chief, Tazzen Mandizvidza Wednesday piled more misery on under-fire news anchor Oscar Pambuka as he distanced the national broadcaster from the newscaster’s ill-fated deals with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
Pambuka is answering to fraud charges after he allegedly billed ZPC for publicity services he purportedly performed for the company through ZBC’s television and radio stations.
Mandizvidza, who is also ZBC director, news and current affairs, assumed the witness’s stand on Wednesday where he told court that there was no way the station could have charged ZPC for news articles that appeared on its bulletins.
“When we cover a ministry’s event, we call it a diary or some may prefer to call it a national event,” he said.
“The diary comes through my office and in some cases, it will be given to a reporter directly.”
Pambuka is alleged to have, among other events, billed ZPC for a ZIMASSET conference that was officiated by then Energy Minister Samuel Undenge. The event was covered by ZBC journalists.
“I don’t understand why the accused billed ZPC because as ZBC, we regard that as government diary.
“It is our mandate to cover such events as long as they are newsworthy,” Mandizvidza said.
The ZBC senior staffer also told court that he was not aware of the agreement between Pambuka and former Zanu PF legislator Psychology Maziwisa, with whom he is charged for the offence.
Mandizvidza told court that as news and current affairs boss, no ZPC projects performed by Pambuka purportedly on behalf of the station ever came on his office desk.
Another witness, a producer at ZBC’s National FM, Clifford Baloyi echoed the same sentiments further damaging the duo’s defence.
Maziwisa and Pambuka insist they indeed carried out some campaigns for ZPC on television programmes.
But prosecutor Michael Reza said the duo would only read newspaper articles, written by other journalists and later claim payment from ZPC.
The state further alleges that the two would claim money each time the parastatal’s name was mentioned during news bulletins.
Maziwisa and Pambuka allegedly duped ZPC using their public relations consultancy company, Fruitful Communications.
This was after they were favoured by Undenge to perform some public relations work for ZPC even when the company had a fully-fledged PR department.
Undenge was jailed for the offence.