Full response to It’s Jomo vs Dina!

2013-04-28 14:00

I was not editor at the time of the meeting last year. But I have subsequently confirmed with Rob Rose and Stephan Hofstatter that a meeting request had been put to Mzilikazi (wa Afrika).

The three journalists made a collective decision at the time that Mzilikazi should attend.

All journalists are required to declare their interests, including Mzilikazi.

His declaration is available online and is up to date.

Jomo Sono and Robert Nkuna were – as far as I am aware – approached by Phosane Mngqibisa.

This was confirmed by both men on Monday.

We are fully prepared to investigate any claims against any journalist provided we are given proof of wrongdoing. I await proof from Ms (Dina) Pule.

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Sunday Times journalist

1. Question: City Press understands that you attended a meeting on June 19 2012 at the Southern Sun hotel, Katherine Street, Sandton, with the following people:

» Mr Jomo Sono

» Mr Robert Nkuna

» Minister Dina Pule

» Mr Themba Phiri

Answer: I attended a meeting with Robert Nkuna, Minister Dina Pule and Themba Phiri.

Jomo Sono facilitated the meeting. He excused himself from the venue prior to the start of it. Sono and Nkuna confirmed this to my editor on Monday.

1.1 What is the nature and history of your relationship with Mr Sono? Would you describe him as a friend?

Answer: I have known Jomo Sono for many years.

1.2 Are you a shareholder and/or business partner in any of the companies associated with Mr Sono, including Jomo Sono Investments and U-Connect?

Answer: I am not a shareholder of any company or in partnership with any company linked to Sono.

1.3 Who invited you to the said meeting?

Answer: I received a call from Sono on June 17 2012 – the day the Sunday Times published the first story on the communications minister and her alleged boyfriend.

Sono informed me that he had just met with Phosane Mngqibisa and that Mngqibisa had requested him to facilitate a meeting between the Sunday Times and the minister as she wanted to give her side of the story.

I informed Sono that I needed to inform my colleagues – Rob Rose and Stephan Hofstatter – about the request.

We agreed that we would attend the meeting. Sono told me that the minister preferred that I attend the meeting alone as it would be an off-the-record meeting.

After another discussion with my colleagues, it was agreed that I should attend the meeting alone as the minister might later say that she tried to give us her side of the story and we refused.

Sono was informed that I would attend the meeting alone as requested. You can confirm that with my colleagues, Stephan Hofstatter and Rob Rose.

1.4 Were you aware at the time that Mr Sono’s company, Jomo Sono Investments, was shortlisted for the set-top-box project tender?

Answer: No.

1.5 What was discussed at the said meeting between you, Sono, Nkuna, Pule and Phiri?

Answer: Sono was not at the meeting – he left before it started. The minister requested that the meeting should be off-the-record. My colleagues and I agreed to that and still respect that agreement for ethical reasons.

1.6 Did you make any offers to Pule that would have resulted in the Sunday Times dropping the investigation into her?

Answer: No.

1.7 Why did misters Sono and Nkuna attend a meeting that was essentially about Pule’s complaints against you and the Sunday Times?

Answer: Sono was never part of the meeting.

I attended the meeting to hear the minister’s side of the story.

At that stage the minister did not have a complaint against me or the Sunday Times.

Furthermore, if you wish to know why Nkuna attended the meeting, I suggest that you ask him.

1.8 Did you deem it proper that Mr Sono was in attendance of a meeting with Minister Pule, the political head of the department responsible for awarding the set-top-box tender?

Answer: Sono never attended any meeting with Minister Pule in my presence.

1.9 Is it possible that Mr Sono may have abused his relationship with you to secure a meeting with Minister Pule to further his business interests?

Answer: No. Sono told me he was approached by Phosane to facilitate a meeting between Sunday Times and the minister as she wanted to tell her side of the story.

Sono’s business interests were unknown to me and my colleagues at the time.

1.10 Have you spoken to Mr Sono and/or Nkuna since Monday’s press conference by Minister Pule?

Answer: I spoke to Sono and Nkuna in the presence of my editor, Phylicia Oppelt, on Monday.

Jomo Sono

City Press spoke to Sono twice.

The first time he said he was not at a meeting in Sandton and that he had no business relationship with Wa Afrika.

“Mzi is not my partner, you can check my companies, there is no partner called Mzi.”

He said: “I’ve never met the minister about the set-top-box tender. I once met her on an overseas flight, where I just greeted her, that was all.”

He said this was the only time he has met her.

He said: “I am not the only one who has responded to the set-top-box tender.”

During the second call, he said: “I never had a meeting with the minister (he said this more than once). I don’t know why you are coming to me because this is a legal matter now.”

He added: “This is defamation of character, I never was in that meeting.”

He asked who our sources are. “I can’t answer to ghosts.”

Phosane Mngqibisa

It is common cause or it ought to be common cause that the member of Parliament referred to in your question (Minister Dina Pule) is currently a subject of an enquiry before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ethics and Members Affairs.

I am equally subpoenaed to be one of the witnesses at the inquiry, whose committee is scheduled to commence its hearings on May 2 2013.

In reply thereto, I have observed that some of the questions that require my input might have a bearing on the questions that the committee might be interested in.

To the foregoing, I do not want to circumvent the process yet to play out at the committee and neither can I pre-empt any of that committee’s parliamentary duties by conducting myself in a manner that could be deemed preposterous.

For your own edification and in deference to the informative role that your paper plays, I trust that some of your most discerning and avid readers would be interested to note that I know Mr Jomo Sono and highly respect him as a legend of our soccer fraternity.

I have to this date never facilitated and neither do I recall a meeting where I met with him to discuss the set-top-box tender processes.

In amplification, I have no direct or indirect interest on the aforesaid process.

I’m astounded by what the editor of Sunday Times allegedly reports, that I organised a meeting between their reporter (Mzilikazi wa Afrika), Minister Dina Pule, Mr Robert Nkuna and Mr Jomo Sono on 19 June 2012 at the same hotel (Southern Sun, Katherine Street).

This allegation is devoid of any semblance of veracity.

I deny ever having arranged any such meeting. The editor of the Sunday Times has to this day never bothered to verify this with me.

In further amplification, I not only (take a dim view of) the allegation but also view this as very opportunistic.

If indeed the alleged meeting arranged by me occurred and against a barrage of previous false and unfounded allegations, unfortunate innuendoes and ill-advised aspersions pandered as conventional truth by Mzilikazi wa Afrika and his fellow travellers within Sunday Times who had occasion to report against me in the past (over the 10 month period).

It is curious to note that this allegation is beginning to surface when questions are already being asked about Mzilikazi’s professional conduct.

If Wa Afrika has known and attended such meetings, his failure to have reported about what would have been such an important story begs the questions.

Why would I ask Mr Sono, who is not a media consultant, to arrange a meeting with the newspaper? This borders on the absurd.

Robert Nkuna

I have never participated in a meeting between Minister Pule and Mzilikazi in which business was discussed, unless it is a case of being caught in a crossfire.

I regard the people mentioned to espouse the highest standards of ethical conduct such that they would have alerted law enforcers (at once) if there was any indiscretion.

Unfortunately (to date) there’s no shred of evidence to confirm that such a meeting (where business was discussed) took place in my presence.

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