ZIMBABWE National Editors’ Forum (Zinef) chairman, Brian Mangwende, has been ordered to return the money he borrowed from the organisation in contravention of the regulations governing donor funds.
The Zinef account has since been frozen and the donors have ordered Mangwende to return the money failure which they have threatened to withdraw financial support to Zinef.
In a letter dated 4th February to Zinef the International Media Support (IMS) gave Mangwende two weeks to return the funds.
The letter, which is in possession of Newzimbabwe.com, was written by IMS’s Finn Rasmussen.
“It has come to IMS’s attention that an advance payment of $2, 200 was approved by account holder MMPZ to Zinef chairperson Brian Mangwende,” reads the letter.
“IMS wishes to inform the board members of Zinef that it is against IMS rules to make advance payments to any board members of any organisation under any circumstances using IMS funds”.
“IMS then cautions that this should not happen again and that the funds advanced to Zinef board chairperson Brian Mangwende be returned within two weeks and not later than the 18th February 2015”.
“Please note that IMS has ordered MMPZ not to pay any funds from Zinef account until this matter has been resolved”.
The current board is led by chairperson Mangwende (unattached), secretary general Barnabas Thondlana (now publisher of The Observer), Treasurer Oliver Gawe (unattached), vice chairperson Njabulo Ncube (Southern Eye’s Deputy Editor) and committee member Maxwell Sibanda (Daily News Assistant editor).
At their annual general meeting held last month some editors felt that Mangwende should resign over the issue and over the fact that he is no longer an editor himself.
Others also felt that Thondlana who is now the publisher of The Observer as well as Gawe should also resign since they were no longer editors.
The Mangwende led board was elected to lead the forum in 2012 taking over from the Iden Wetherell led board.
The missing funds were only discovered a day before the AGM when the coordinator, Patience Shawarira, went to the bank to collect money to be used by delegates.
Thondlana said everything was done above board and his chair has committed to pay back the money.
In a related development Zinef coordinator, Shawarira has told the board that she will be leaving the forum at the end of this month.