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Which Percy was it?

FOLLOWING the publication of Percy Makombe’s article on NewZimbabwe.com — which we rerun in our opinion section — in response to Geoffrey Nyarota’s earlier articles, the former Daily News editor was apparently confused about the identity of the author. Ny

arota attacked the Mail & Guardian’s Percy Zvomuya thinking he was Percy Makombe. Below are the e-mail correspondences that ensued:

Dear Percy,

I AM sorry I deleted your emails from my account at the beginning of the year.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the tone and the utter foolishness of your article which appeared on NewZimbabwe.com.

My surprise arises mostly from the fact that you are now presenting yourself as the MDC senior press and communications officer during the run-up to the presidential election in 2002. When we met in Johannesburg in December you introduced yourself and have since communicated with me as a reporter on the Mail & Guardian.

I am sorry I did not encourage the correspondence, but I am an extremely busy man, especially at the time when you attempted to create a relationship with me. I didn’t realise that you took it so badly.

From my recollection it appears you might not have been born at the time of the events that you now want or are being coerced to write so expertly on. I suppose one can always research. The answer to your mystery is that the Unity Agreement in 1987 liberated the whole of Zimbabwe again and the press started to flex its muscles, with the Chronicle trailblazing in the forefront.

I was not scared of (Enos) Nkala because by then I realised that like most loudmouths he is actually a coward. That’s how Willowgate came about.

I see another crackpot on NewZimbabwe.com tried to suggest that this scandal was exposed by someone other than Maruziva and me. At this rate you people will soon be claiming that the Daily News was launched by a journalist from Bulawayo.

You reveal your real weaknesses, however, when you claim, among many other inaccuracies, that I stated in my own article that the Mnangagwa-Ncube plot had the backing of Solomon Mujuru. Read the article again.

I said this initiative had the alleged support of Vitalis Zvinavashe. Mujuru and Zvinavashe are totally different people. Some people are now bothering me as they ask for the article in which I alleged the complicity of Mujuru in this plot.

Does it not surprise you, Percy, that Mngangagwa, Ncube and (Col Lionel) Dyke have not responded to my article. Why must you fight the battle for them?

NewZimbabwe.com normally attaches the e-mail address of its correspondents at the end of their article. Why are you protected?

Your masters have obviously failed to produce the fictitious Michael Mtungwa. Now they have gone a step further. They found a real Shona writer and fed him a line.

I hope they are paying you well. You did look like you needed extra feeding when I met you in Johannesburg. I was a bit suspicious that without provocation you started to badmouth your employer and your organisation.

I have never stopped wondering for how long you had been tailing me before you tapped me on the shoulder from behind. Just as well, I never took the bait. I can detect your types from a distance.

Mari yeCIO yabooka mazuva ano, Percy. Idyawo munin’ina. Asi imwe inozvimbira.

Very kind regards,
Geoffrey Nyarota.


Dear Mduduzi (NewZimbabwe.com editor),

THANKS for sending me Nyarota’s feedback. I notice that he is asking for my contact details from Trevor Ncube — why that is so boggles the mind. I would have thought that you would be his first port of call for any queries he might have on an article appearing on your website, but then again stranger things have been known to happen.
I copy Mr Ncube in this communication because there are some untruths that are being peddled by Nyarota in the message that he has sent to him.

As a matter of record, I have never met Nyarota and I have not been to South Africa since 2003. I have never written anything for the Mail & Guardian, not even a letter to the editor. It is therefore not only dishonest for Nyarota to say I have been trying to create a relationship with him, but also totally ridiculous.

Me, a mere mortal, trying to create a relationship with the demigod of Zimbabwean journalism? Surely I’m not so crazy as to forget my place. This is exactly the kind of thing that I’m talking about in my article — illustrious editors building a whole body of evidence based on dubious information.

If Nyarota cannot get right the names of people who are trying to build relationships with him, there is a real danger that he is not getting right a whole lot of other things.

People who do not want their articles to be critiqued have no business contributing to newspapers. His accusations that I have been paid to express my opinions is not only anti-intellectual, it is totally without foundation and creates the dangerous impression that people who argue with Nyarota are either state agents or have been sent by Trevor Ncube.

There is no reason for Nyarota to throw a tantrum every time his role as the Chronicle editor during the Gukurahundi era is questioned. There is no reason why he should foam and froth when his facts on the MDC are put to test.

For the avoidance of doubt, I genuinely believe that Nyarota was a great editor. But that does not stop me from saying that his two articles to the Financial Gazette were all cornflakes and no milk!

Although I have never met Nyarota it is true that I look underfed. What do you expect when I have been battered and bruised by our economy? But surely there is no law in the world that stops hungry and underfed people from expressing their opinions.

As for his forthcoming book, I look forward to it and I will be the first to buy it when it comes. But make no mistake, my admiration for his work as a journalist will not blind me to his shortcomings as an author. If he does not want any criticism, he is best advised to limit the circulation of the book to his family members.
Best regards,
Percy Makombe.


Dear Geoffrey,

IT is always a chastening experience meeting famous people. Sadly, they are not what you make them up to be in real life.  This is true for many people, alas! That is also true for me now.

You confuse me for Percy Makombe, but instead of dealing with the issues that he raised in his piece you go on to attack me thinking that you are attacking Makombe. I may be thin but in fact I am well-fed. Surely we don’t all respond in the same way when we get good nourishment.

At what point in that three or four-minute conversation did I badmouth my employer and my  organisation? It is a singular honour to work for the M&G and for Mr Ncube.  

I acknowledged you as a son of the soil and at no point did I try to cultivate a relationship with you. I acknowledged you in the same way I would have acknowledged Mr Trevor Ncube, Mr Strive Masiyiwa, Prof Muthuli Ncube (which I have incidentally done when I met him), Mr Nigel Chanakira, Prof Terence Ranger (whom I have also met and similarly acknowledged) or any other illustrious son of Zimbabwe.

I was not tailing you if you remember the precise details of our meeting. You were coming from the other direction when I greeted you in the company of a man who said he was related to Mr Trevor Ncube’s wife. It is sad when we cannot get such basic details right and when people become so trivial and vindictive, it makes one wonder what else you did not get right as the editor of the Daily News.

You also talk about CIO money, and encourage me to partake of it. Vanoziva nzira yeparuware ndivo vafambi vayo.

Kind regards,
Percy (Zvomuya).


Dear Percy (Zvomuya),

PLEASE do accept my most sincere apologies for the error I committed yesterday in mistaking you for Percy Makombe, the author of an article about me, which was posted on the NewZimbabwe.com website yesterday.

I realise now that Percy Zvomuya, whom I met in Johannesburg, is not Percy Makombe who wrote the article in question. By copy of this letter I wish to apologise most sincerely as well to Mr Trevor Ncube and Mr Mduduzi Mathuthu for associating you and Mr Ncube with this article.

Very kind regards,
Geoffrey Nyarota.


Dear Percy

THANK you very much for your letter. I acknowledge that in a state of confusion arising from the malicious articles that have been peddled as accurate information about me over the past few days I made two seriously (sic) errors about you yesterday.  I confused your identity with that of Percy Makombe, the author of the latest article and I also confused the context of our recent meeting in Johannesburg.

I acknowledge that I met two Zimbabweans in quick succession on the day in question and that it was the other man, and not you, who made comments that were both uncalled for and uncomplimentary about your employer.

The man was, like you, a total stranger to me. So you may understand my assumption that it was you, who works for Mr Ncube who uttered the words in question.

I have already apologised to you for this most unfortunate error on my part. By copy of this communication to Mr Ncube, you should be absolved of any wrongdoing. If there is anything else that I can do to resolve this matter, please do not hesitate to say.

I am sorry that I caused you so much embarrassment and humiliation. Please, do accept my sincerest apologies.
Ndinoziva kuti wakatsamwa chaizvo, munin’ina asi ukatanga kunditukawo zvakare hazvizonyatsoonekwi kuti akanganisira umwe ndeupi. Iwe chiita munhu kwaye, benzi riveni. Ndatenda.

Very kind regards,
Geoffrey Nyarota.

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