The mediagate scandal in Zimbabwe is deepening amid manouvres by Ibbo Mandaza, the suspended chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group (ZMNG), to regain control of the company that publishes the only “independent” newspaper in the country, the Daily Mirror.
Zimbabwe does not have a purely independent daily newspaper after the Daily News was shut down by the government in September 2003.
In the meantime, Mandaza has filed a High Court application for contempt of court charges against ZMNG directors for allegedly failing to comply with a court order to reinstate him.
Mandaza was suspended as CEO in October 2005 following the direct intervention in his company by the spy Central Intelligence Organisation. The High Court, however, ruled that he be reinstated but the board chaired by economist and government praise-singer Jonathan Kadzura has refused to abide by the court order.
ZMNG also publishes the Sunday Mirror, a weekly publication.
In his request that charges be laid against directors Kadzura, John Marangwanda, Charm Makuwane, Alexander Kanengoni and Thomas Meke, Mandaza wants the respondents to be imprisoned “until such a time that they comply with the order of this honourable court.”
“There can be no question that all the respondents disobeyed a lawful order of this court. I understand that in law, this proves their wilful disobedience and inherent mala fides [bad faith],” said Mandaza in papers filed in the High Court.
“The underlying evil and manifest contrivance in all this is too strong to miss. It is consistent with the dominant and obsessive purpose of all the respondents and their not very undisclosed. . . wishes to [muscle me out of] an organisation that I founded, at zero cost to them,” argues the suspended ZMNG boss.
Workers at the company are complaining that they are not being paid in time by the current management.
“We spend weeks after our normal pay days without receiving our dues. These adminstrative bungles are a result of the fight within the management itself and several journalists and back office staff are contemplating leaving their jobs to seek employment elsewhere”, said a journalist at the company who requested anonymity.