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Econet Zimbabwe, journos square off

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 27 Mar 2015

Econet Zimbabwe, journos square off

The legal representative of Econet Wireless and Steward Bank on Friday walked out of a scheduled press briefing after journalists demanded an apology for the “immoral manner” in which the two companies had raided Harare-based news agency, The Source.

On Thursday police and Econet lawyers raided the offices of The Source as a result of stories published by the agency.

Earlier this year the Reuters affiliated news agency published two stories; the first saying Steward Bank – a unit of Econet Wireless – was seeking to recover a $2 million loan advanced to wealthy businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa, through the acquisition of residential stands owned by Chiyangwa's companies.

The second one detailed how Econet, the country’s largest telecoms operator, had advanced a $30 million loan to the Zimbabwe government.

Econet and Steward Bank are arguing that the documents upon which the stories are based, are private.

The two companies were subsequently granted an order by the High Court allowing them to raid the news agency and recover emailed documents.

Tawanda Nyambirai, the legal representative for the two companies and Lance Mambondiyani, Steward Bank’s CEO, sought to address journalists on the issue, but failed to proceed after the journalists demanded an apology for the raid.

“If Econet can do that; it means that all the data that goes through their servers is not safe. They are the largest licensed public data handler in Zimbabwe,” Chris Musodza, an IT expert told ITWeb Africa.

Hardly two minutes into Nyambirai’s address, journalists demanded an apology which was met with refusal. Nyambirai tried to explain that the two companies had a High Court order, but was prevented from continuing with his address.

“There are amicable ways of dealing with the matter; they should have approached the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) instead of going to the courts,” Kumbirai Mafunda, chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) said.

Prior to the disruptions, Nyambirai said “the banker client relationship is a relationship in the utmost good faith”.

He was referring to the documents detailing the default in paying a loan by Chiyangwa that The Source wrote about and which the bank wants taken down from the website.

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