Insiders ‘unsure of AMH’s future’

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trevor ncube july 21 Independent Newspapers Trevor Ncube. File picture: Paballo Thekiso

Johannesburg -

Insiders at Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), Mail & Guardian publisher Trevor Ncube’s Zimbabwe newspaper company, say senior staff have not been paid their June salaries - while younger staff members have.

Those still unpaid are “reasonably confident” they will be paid “soon”, but are not confident the company will survive the economic crisis gripping Zimbabwe .

Ncube announced that he will shut the Sunday Southern Eye and incorporate it into another of his Sunday titles, The Standard.

He strongly denied on Monday the paper was closing, insisting the reasons for the incorporation were “structural”.

Instead of publishing it Monday to Friday and on Sundays, the Sunday edition would be incorporated into The Standard. The Monday to Friday editions would continue.

“There will be no staff changes or anything of that sort,” he said.

He also denied that any senior staff of AMH had not been paid in June. “Do you have evidence that staff are not being paid on time?”

Some staffers said the operation had drained AMH’s overall resources the past year. They said the paper had largely been dragged down by the general economic recession in Bulawayo - worse than that of the Zimbabwe economy overall.

About 80 percent of Bulawayo’s industries have gone broke over the last few years.

“Bulawayo is a ghost town, it has almost no industry left, and although the newspaper was popular and had good reports, it has little advertising because the city’s economy doesn’t exist any more,” said a well-placed source in the publishing industry.

Another media insider said of the 13 registered advertising agencies in Bulawayo, more than half were in financial trouble.

Some Mail & Guardian staff told Independent Newspapers last week that Ncube had been using profits from his South African operation to keep his Zimbabwe papers afloat.

Chief executive Hoosain Karjieker said at the time the company had been experiencing periodic financial difficulties, but its cash-flow crisis was “not beyond the normal”. - Independent Foreign Service

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