The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has put its Director of Radio Services, Robson Mhandu, on suspension following allegations of sexual harassment.
Mhandu is accused of soliciting sexual favors from a female presenter, Farai Juliet Magada, also known as Farie Jules, as a condition for approving her transfer from Bulawayo to Harare.
Mhandu, a veteran with over 20 years of experience at ZBC, allegedly told Magada that she needed to “motivate me by work and number two, the obvious… it’s a combination of the two.” He threatened to send her back to Bulawayo if she refused his advances. This conversation was captured in an audio recording of their meeting at Pockets Hill.
Evidence against Mhandu includes two audio recordings and 14 screenshots of WhatsApp messages. In these messages, Mhandu referred to Magada as his wife and used his totem, a lion, to symbolize his dominance. He assured Magada that complying with his sexual demands would guarantee her transfer, stating “It’s one million percent guaranteed… Remember you moved from Khulumani FM to Classic 263 on my signature MaMoyo.”
Mhandu’s behavior extended beyond the office as he continued to harass Magada on WhatsApp, addressing her with endearing terms while persistently asking for sexual favors. When Magada finally refused his advances, Mhandu abruptly ended the conversation stating “Case closed, no further discussion on this issue. It’s now work and work. SIMPLE.”
The issue of sexual harassment in the media industry was discussed at a workshop in Harare attended by Information Minister Jenfan Muswere. The minister expressed concern over the violation of human rights and its impact on everyone.
Mhandu has faced similar allegations during his tenure at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the Zimbabwe Open University’s public relations departments. Despite the mounting evidence against him, Mhandu plans to contest the charges at an internal disciplinary hearing next month.
ZBC CEO Adelaide Chikunguru claimed ignorance about Mhandu’s suspension, but insiders suggest she might be cautious about appearing to instigate his downfall due to professional rivalry.
ZBC employees have called for a broader inquiry led by an independent panel into Mhandu’s history of alleged sexual harassment.