We have been approached by all kinds of people offering us all kinds of things to kill the Honeybee story. We have received all kinds of calls from people who issued us all kinds of threats, demanding that we stop exposing the wrong dealing involving this company. The agents of Honeybee have on so many occasions engaged us in conversations, asking for a “cease fire” without ever denying any of the facts that we have been publishing.
Therefore, being threatened to be sued by Honeybee is not something that we are going to lose sleep over. We wear their threats as a badge of honour and look forward to facing them in court. There are many questions we have been dying to ask the claimed owners of Honeybee and we have not had an opportunity to. The court is going to be a very good arena for us to demonstrate how rotten this whole transaction was.
What Honeybee and others who plan to sue News Diggers need to know is that we actually publish a very small fraction of what we gather in the course of our investigations. For high profile investigations such as this one, we have to do a lot of work gathering facts, verifying them and cross referencing with other sources, before we can publish. By the time we are publishing, we would have done our homework and satisfied ourselves that we have evidence. There is no way we can just wake up and single out Honeybee then start a smear campaign against them. For what? Who are they? News Diggers does not have a single corporate enemy and we are not looking for one.
The people of Zambia watched from Parliament everything that we have been writing about in this scandal. There is nothing that we exposed about Honeybee that was not confirmed by those who were answering questions during the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee sitting. We are not the ones who said Honeybee condoms failed quality assurance tests, we are not the ones who said the condoms were leaking; we are not the ones who said the condoms were distributed to the citizens despite failing these tests. This is no longer an issue of a News Diggers investigation; yes we started the story, but the record is there at Parliament now showing everything that transpired, and it is not different from what we reported. The only thing is that there is more that has not been revealed yet.
This transaction was built on a rotten foundation and its execution was also rotten. We therefore welcome the threats from Honeybee. In fact, this is what we have been calling for. It is not a long time ago when we published an editorial comment in which we demanded that the Honeybee saga must be settled in court so that the culprits can be prosecuted. How can we shiver to receive a demand letter from Honeybee lawyers? And we must also say that their choice of lawyers is also very interesting. It is not the first time that we are being threatened by Mr Tutwa Ngulube, we hope this time he will carry through his threats and not run away.
This scandal is not an issue between News Diggers and Honeybee, it is about the people of Zambia. The work that we are doing is not for ourselves, we do this for the public. The money that Honeybee and their facilitators in the Ministry of Health are playing with is not private money. This is public money which is collected in all sorts of taxes from the richest to the poorest Zambians. Even a poor villager who buys soap from a kantemba pays tax. Anyone who rides in a car that uses fuel pays tax. It is this money that is being wasted. That’s why we demand accountability from those who have access to the national coffers and companies that get government tenders.
Honeybee cannot accuse us of acting unprofessionally. We have given Honeybee every opportunity to tell their side of the story and everything that their company representatives have said to us in their defence, we have published – even when we don’t believe their lies. As if that is not enough, they were given a very public platform at Parliament buildings during the PAC sitting where they miserably failed to convince citizens of their story. Is Honeybee saying all those MPs were paid to scandalise them? Are they going to sue everyone present during the PAC hearing, including the Auditor General for exposing their wrong deeds? People must be serious!
We therefore have no apologies to make about our Honeybee stories; we would rather reserve our apology for people who deserve it, than give it to Mr Ngulube and his Honeybee friends. We will be officially responding to the Honeybee lawyer to tell him what our position is and wait for him to take us to court.
These kinds of cheap threats will not stop us from pursuing the truth. The Honeybee transaction stinks and any honest court will agree with us when we show it the evidence that this transaction stinks. So Mr Ngulube, wait for our letter. We shall respond to you, and then you can do as you please!