Chief Executive of the Mail and Guardian Mr.Trevor Ncube in his office in Rosebank Johannesburg.01 picture: Paballo Thekiso

Harare - Zimbabwe publisher, Trevor Ncube, who also owns the Mail & Guardian has announced he will shut down his Bulawayo Sunday paper, Sunday Southern Eye.

Many staffers say that the Bulawayo operation has drained Alpha Media resources for the last year. About 80 percent of Bulawayo's industries went broke over the last few years.

Last November staffers at other publications in the group said they were receiving salaries late. “It is true. We are not always paid on time,” said a senior in Harare. “It is a very tough market because the economy is also in trouble,” he said. “The Bulawayo situation has been very difficult.

AMH also publishes Newsday, The Independent, a weekly and Sunday's The Standard.

Sunday Southern Eye never attracted much advertising.

The statement said “with effect from July 28, we are consolidating Sunday Southern Eye with our recently revamped sister paper, The Standard”.

AMH said it was committed to the company’s “digital first strategy” a strategy “that has made it possible for Southern Eye to be always in touch with its readers who continue to offer valuable feedback”.

“A recurring theme in this feedback is the need for a much stronger presence during weekends,” the company said.

IOL’s sister publication The Star reported last week on the financial squeeze put by Ncube's Zimbabwean business on the M&G.

Hoosain Karjieker, the company's chief executive in Johannesburg, denied that Mail & Guardian's tight financial situation was caused by problems with the Zimbabwe stable.

Sources from within the M&G told The Star that Ncube was retaining his Zimbabwean papers, despite the financial drain, “for political reasons”. They said Ncube wanted to be well placed to influence the political transition in Zimbabwe, The Star reported.

“The allegations in the article are completely untrue,” Karjieker told Sapa.

“We do not fund the Zimbabwe operations from South Africa, our staff members have all been paid, there is no dispute in terms of withholding bonuses, commission, or incentives.”

Ncube's Zimbabwe stable was, for years, the only source of non-Zanu-PF-controlled news. His daily, Newsday, opened during the optimism sparked by an inclusive government which came to power in February 2009.

Since Zanu-PF returned to power last year, Zimbabwe's media monitors say there has been some reform in the country's partisan main newspapers, owned equally by the government and private sector.

Independent Foreign Service