BancABC was pressured into denying that President Robert Mugabe’s son Bellarmine Chatunga sought a $380 000 loan which was turned down.
Insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent that Chatunga approached BancABC in the company of his bodyguards. Senior bank managers said that on the day in question, Chatunga met BancABC staffer Lincoln Chirinda. The bank’s managing director Joe Sibanda summoned Chirinda who was on leave to plan a response to the story.
The Independent said it made several calls to Sibanda and sent an SMS seeking comment ahead of publication deadline. The bank only responded to the report through a fire fighting press release which came six days after publication.
The bank also desperately engaged a public relations agency, Magna Carta, after publication of the story on September 30 in an effort to solicit a detailed question-and-answer interview with the author of the story before resolving to flight press releases via the state-controlled media.