This blog continues its fine tradition of publishing scoops and inside information that is being proved true left right and centre. Just in the last week we brought you two such scoops.
On Wednesday, I published a story scoop here telling you news about the imminent "firing" of Arthur Mutambara, Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime Minister. The very next day, on Thursday, Zimbabwe Financial Gazette carried that story on their front page!!
Then on Friday, we brought you the story about the Reserve Bank Zimbabwe Governor asking all his staff to return their cars to the Reserve Bank Sports Club so that he could offer even more cars to even more MPs.
On Sunday, two days later, the Standard confirmed that story and did an even longer piece on the issue, saying some of the RBZ staff had come to work without their cars for fear that these would be “acquired” forcibly from them.
Also in the last week, I had the pleasure of dealing with extremely professional people, who clearly take pride in their work.
Joan Yarnold of Media24 Magazines contacted me saying they were doing a feature story on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his trials and tribulations and especially concentrating on the grief he has suffered recently, the double tragedy of the deaths of his wife and grandson.
Joan had come across a picture of Tsvangirai holding one his grandsons on this blog. He contacted me to request permission to use it. (Which no Zimbabwean "online newspaper would have done. They would have just stolen it like they steal all my articles).
I directed Joan to the Prime Minister's office, since the picture is clearly part of Tsvangirai's family album and I hold no copyright on it.
Within an hour, Joan had got back in touch with me to say that the Prime Minister had said Media24 should go ahead and use the picture on my blog.
I tell you, the professionalism was refreshing!!
I mention this because I am increasingly feeling pity for some online “newspapers” who, for example, besides stealing the story about the intended firing on Arthur Mutambara from this blog and publishing it on their own sites, also rather pathetically tried to pursue the story, to make it their own and to misled the reading public in the process.
As you are by now aware, these so-called online newspapers subsequently published a "follow-up"story saying that one of the instigators of the rebellion against Arthur Mutambara, Job Sikhala, had been fired or suspended from the MDC party led by the deputy Prime Minister.
It turns out this is nothing but a pack of lies. Sikhala himself, as well as the disciplinary committee of the Mutambara MDC, both denied that any such action had been taken!!
But this pack of lies has already been swallowed by gullible readers, mostly those who hate the smaller MDC for no reason except that the men in it, people like Welshman Ncube, rebelled against the dictatorial tendencies of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and broke away from the main MDC.
These are the same people (it is a group of only twenty or so blinkered Tsvangirai fanatics) who hound websites on the Internet in a forlorn and lonely battle to salvage the reputation of the Prime Minister and his MDC who are now so firmly in the pocket of Robert Mugabe that they are now the dictator’s currency, with which he pays to get out of the isolation the world had imposed upon him.
It is pathetic, really, to see how, while they try (without success) to shout down voices like mine that seek to examine the failures of the MDC in office (they are not in power, only in office), these twenty or so online fanatics (some masquerading as "journalists") swallow these lies published by “newspapers” who pander to their myopic and blind following of the discredited MDC-T . They gleefully read the lies about the firing of Sikhala, absolutely ecstatic that they had now finally found something to take attention away from the failure of their own MDC-T in government.
Well, thank heavens for people like the Zimbabwean professionals at SW Radio. They, like true professional journalists, immediately got in touch with both sides of the story. Sikhala denied that he had been handed a letter suspending him from the party. The MDC itself also denied that it had suspended the Sikhala.
Here is what you need to understand about the dynamics of this phenomenon of Zimbabwean online “newspapers”:
Most of them are one-man bands run by someone holding down a full-time job in the diaspora and trying to make money online through advertising. They probably do not even have enough money to make phone calls back home to verify their stories. They don't have the phone numbers of the political players in Zimbabwe. They have, effectively no way to report from within Zimbabwe.
This has led to them publishing lie after lie after lie. You will recall that earlier this year, the newly appointed Minister Welshman Ncube told a conference that “online journalists and newspapers” lie so much that they have lost all credibility with anyone who is serious about finding out what is happening in Zimbabwe.
This explains the venom that you now see directed at me personally by some of these online papers, even as they steal my stories from this blog and publish them as if I am one of their columnists!
Like I have said before, the only online newspaper that has asked for permission to reproduce my articles is the Zimbabwe Mail. TalkZimbabwe have also approached me, but this is normally on a story by story basis. Everyone else is simply stealing the content and republishing it. Some make a pathetic attempt to insert an “introduction” to my story (which is normally just disparaging comments on my article, without engaging a single fact in it) before reproducing it in its entirety!!
We are now in the process of making moves to ensure that the theft of our copyright material on this blog is brought to an end once and for all. And you can expect that this battle will get very nasty. I fully expect it to get personal, with all manner of personal smears against me. It will be nasty because we are going after the motivations of these online thieves – money (which they get from reputable advertising programmes run by ethical companies like Google, who do not take kindly to anyone making money from their advertising using other people’s copyrighted content).
But we have to protect our intellectual property from people who are to lazy to think or work to make something of their own publishing platforms.
Despite all this, I am happy to report that this blog continues its meteoric rise in terms of readership and remains ranked Number 1 in Zimbabwe and in the top 100 000 in the world. Good going for a one-man effort, which is what a blog is. We have never pretended to be a newspaper, we just have a good nose for scoops.
Expect more scoops. And expect more people to attempt to stop you from reading the truth that we publish here.
I myself never read any of the online stuff, except for SW Radio, Nehanda Radio, VOP, Zimbabwe Mail and yes, the Zimbabwe Times as well as Zimbabwe Metro. Other resources I use now and again are mukoma.com and foreign publications.
No other Zimbabwean online paper deserves my attention, especially since time is so precious here in Zimbabwe these days!!
Meantime, I take my hat off to the professionals at SW Radio who have brought us the truth and exposed the lies being fed gullible people (who had already started rejoicing) on the Sikhala/Mutambara saga.