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Mnangagwa son-in-law appoints AMH board rep

by Staff reporter
11 Oct 2022 at 19:47hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa's son-in-law, Gerald Mlotshwa, who recently acquired shares in Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), publishers of NewsDay, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, has appointed a board representative in the publishing company as he consolidates his position.

Mlotshwa - a prominent lawyer married to the Zanu-PF leader's daughter Farai - has appointed Brenda Kamoto from his law firm Titan Law into the AMH board.

AMH, which is controlled by publisher Trevor Ncube, released a statement on Thursday confirming shareholder changes, but did not mention the prominent lawyer by name.

Mlotshwa first got involved with AMH in 2019 when he sponsored Ncube's talk show, In Conversation With Trevor — which is supposed to be a series of candid and insightful engagements.

The interviews are however now only distinguished for avoiding taking on Mnangagwa or asking him serious questions and other important issues about the corrupt and incompetent executive.

After The NewsHawks reported the shareholder changes last week, which AMH was keeping under wraps, there was debate on whether the company's editorial policy would change or remain the same, at a time private media organisations are being captured by the state.

Senior staff at AMH however said editorial changes would be subtle such that discerning readers may not see them.

"If there are any changes, it may be limited to the media house failing to hold Mnangagwa and his family to account, while remaining robust when it comes to ministers, government ministries and other senior government officials. Even as things stand now, it's rare to find articles criticising Mnangagwa and his family," a senior journalist at AMH said.

This was the editorial approach of The Financial Gazette during the late former president Robert Mugabe's twilight years.

With Mlotshwa now formally involved as a shareholder, it would be even more difficult for AMH to criticise Mnangagwa or expose his shortcomings — meaning it would be hard to break the chains of media capture.

The private media in Zimbabwe is now largely captured by Mnangagwa's cronies or Zanu-PF agents. Media capture is a form of Press control through a series of premeditated steps taken by governments and powerful interest groups, which undermines the ability of journalism to serve the public good.

These include taking over regulatory control, state-owned media operations, public advertising/ marketing, and politically linked ownership of private media.

These manoeuvres have left the independent media more vulnerable to being undermined by both powerful external actors and decision-making structures or individuals within media organisations. Before Ncube quit over a year ago in exasperation after jumping onto the 2017 military coup gravy train with intolerant exuberance, he could not criticise Mnangagwa as he was one of his Presidential Advisory Council members, which has now all but collapsed.

Ncube only attacked Mnangagwa and the coup-plotters he initially cheered in March when he made public his resignation during his sour grapes address at the BizNews Conference in the Drakensberg, South Africa.

In a statement, AMH said it had brought in new shareholders through a private placement.

AMH acknowledged this without naming the new shareholders via a public statement by its Editorial Advisory Board chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda. While claiming inaccuracies in media reports, the statement does not provide meaningful information beyond pontificating and obfuscation.

AMH said a private placement had "brought in minority shareholders into the business". But AMH failed to acknowledge Mlotshwa as a new shareholder. Ncube has told senior staff that AMH chief executive Kenias Mafukidze now has 26% of shares.

However, Mafukidze told The NewsHawks last week he is not a "principal" or shareholder, referring questions to Ncube and Mlotshwa, the equity stake holders in the company.

This raised two narratives and eyebrows. Instead of clarifying issues, the statement obfuscates matters.

In terms of labour laws and workplace democracy, AMH has a legal obligation to inform its works council of any shareholding or structural changes in the company. But it has not done that yet except dropping hints here and there, as it does in the statement, fuelling confusion.

The statement is more concerned about reassuring the market and readers that AMH's editorial independence would not be compromised by the shareholder changes or Mlotshwa's presence.

It says its Public Ombudsman and the Editorial Advisory Board will protect editorial independence.

However, as the situation during the coup showed, Ncube is ready to brazenly interfere and crudely manipulate the editorial in pursuit of his usual dead-end politics that always lead him down a cul-de-sac or a political blind alley; inevitably ending in tears.

Mlotshwa came after buying the New York-based Media Development Investment Fund's 39%. The statement implies the 39% is shared between minority shareholders, not Mlotshwa alone. This is different from what Mafukidze and Mlotshwa say, meaning there is no transparency in the deal.

Source - thenewshawks
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