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CLAIMS by the suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Chief Executive Officer Happison Muchechetere that Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo head-hunted the national broadcaster's former CEO Alum Mpofu are without merit, according to the man who recommended him for the job.

Munyaradzi Hwengwere was the Principal Secretary in the then Department of Information and Publicity in the President's Office, second in command to current Permanent Secretary in the ministry George Charamba, when the ZBC advertised for a CEO and heads of newly-formed business units.

"Being in the Office of the President, I recommended Alum and called him myself knowing his qualifications," Hwengwere told Chronicle yesterday.

"At that time, Prof Moyo didn't know him. I knew he was well-schooled in broadcasting and had been a senior manager at SABC. He then applied and got the job".

He added: "I also applied for the post of head of Newsnet, a position that I subsequently got. At that time, Muchechetere was in the current affairs department. This is absolutely the correct record and people should not use this issue to score points."

Mpofu, who took over as CEO in July 2001, quit his job a year later after the Gideon Gono-led ZBC board began investigations into claims that he had been caught in a homosexual act in a Harare nightclub.

Muchechetere, currently suspended on corruption allegations, used an interview with the Zimbabwe Mail newspaper to claim that Prof Moyo had forced through Mpofu's appointment against his better advice.

Muchechetere told the Mail: "With Jonathan, we come a way long back (sic). The first time when he fired me from ZBC, well around 2000 and all that, we talked just like normal people and he used to invite me to his home.

"Then there was this day when he invited me to his home, then I thought I was going to advise him about this guy he wanted to appoint, Alum Mpofu. As a journalist, I had heard rumour that he (Mpofu) was of a different sexual orientation, you know, and I thought I would advise Jonathan about that, but well I got a rude answer from him.

"I didn't know that it hurt him so much that in the next few months I was out of my work because of that, because I had told him Mpofu was of a different sexual orientation, and he didn't really like that. I stayed at home, just like now. Luckily, I'm a farmer and I survived."

Muchechetere's claims that he was fired are disputed by ZBC officials at the time who say he was in fact transferred to New Ziana with Justice Dhliwayo to form a new electronic broadcasting division like Reuters.

Last night, Prof Moyo said Muchechetere was "hallucinating", as he confirmed that he had never met Mpofu until Hwengwere introduced him.

He said Muchechetere's claims that the minister "used to invite me to his home" were "fictitious".
"I've no problem welcoming people to my house, it's an honour to do so, but I've never had opportunity or reason to welcome Mr Muchechetere to my house, never ever! At no time in his history did this happen," the minister said.

"But I can't rule out that he has had dreams, hallucinations, of visiting my house and having fictitious conversations with me. I'm unable to comment on that."

Hwengwere said the minister had no reason to "go defensive when questions were raised about Mpofu", because his appointment as ZBC boss was never his idea in the first place.

Mpofu, explained Hwengwere, comes from the same area as him in Mberengwa. The two attended the same school for elementary education at Manama High School in Gwanda, and later met at university.

"I know Alum for two reasons. We shared our early days at Manama and we come from Mberengwa. He was my senior at the University of Natal in South Africa and later worked as an audience research manager for the SABC. I did my research project at SABC, working under his office. It was around 1995," said Hwengwere.

Hwengwere became ZBC CEO after Mpofu left, and there were subsequently two CEOs after him - Rino Zhuwarara and Henry Muradzikwa — before Muchechetere took over in 2008.

Asked to respond to the minister's comments yesterday, Muchechetere said: "I'm not available, sorry."

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