By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
01 May 2014
Workers at the Alpha Media Holdings (AHM) have confirmed reports that the company is in financial problems after they were only paid half their April salaries.
AHM publish the NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and the Southern Eye newspapers.
NewZimbabwe.com reported Thursday that senior manager Edith Kayinga informed workers that they will receive only half of the April salaries. In an email Kayinga said ‘dates for the other payroll are yet to be confirmed.’
Different workers told SW Radio Africa that it was not the first time for the salaries to be delayed, because last month the salaries were delayed by about 10 days. Some workers attributed the development to ‘poor management.’ They claimed that senior managers were living luxuriously while the company was sinking.
Signs that all was not well emerged last year after Strand Multiprint, who were then printing the media group’s newspapers, asked the High Court for a liquidation order citing insolvency and non-viability. The order was granted and the printing company was eventually liquidated. Around the same time many workers took voluntary retirement packages.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Secretary General Forster Dongozi said the developments at AHM were not isolated. He said: ‘In an economy like ours where we also don’t even have our own currency you should expect this. I know of some of our members who are senior editors who have not been paid for months now in different media houses.’
Dongozi said the situation was made worse by the fact that the donor community was also pulling out of some organisations. He said: ‘Many newspapers are being donor funded and as you know the donor community is currently not forthcoming with funds due to a variety of reasons and that tends to affect operations across the board.’
According to the Zimbabwe Independent editor, Dumisani Muleya, AHM is 39 percent owned by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF). Writing in the editor’s memo last month Muleya said Trevor Ncube is the majority shareholder.
MDIF is a non-profit corporation and investment fund that provides low-cost financing to independent news media in countries with a history of media repression.