Former and Information minister Jonathan Moyo, a professor of politics, has joined the raging debate involving local publisher Trevor Ncube, chairman of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), and his business partner Gerald Mlotshwa, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son-in-law, over their controversial ownership of the media house that is now evidently captured at shareholding levels by Zanu PF and government-aligned elites, compromising it’s editorial policy.
Ncube claims he doesn’t interfere at all in his media organisation’s editorial policy, but Moyo says the AMH chairman is lying through his teeth and there is overwhelming evidence to show that beyond reasonable doubt.
Moyo says Ncube is trying to gaslight his own journalists and audiences who, however, can see through his self-destructive deceit which he has peddled for years, but can no longer sustain as his mask has now fallen irretrievably.
“First, while Ncube and AMH had previously said they had attracted new investors, they dodged questions about the identity of those investors.
This is the first time Ncube has confirmed in public that Mlotshwa is a major shareholder at AMH. Mlotshwa is
@edmnangagwa’s son-in-law and a legal practitioner who is said to be a businessman and who also chairs the Sports and Recreation Commission.
Although Ncube describes himself as “the biggest shareholder” at AMH, he leaves no doubt that Mlotshwa is a bigger investor than AMH’s CEO – Kenias Mafukidze – whom he says is another shareholder at his stable.
“Strangely, Mafukidze previously told the media that he is just an employee and not a principal at AMH.
“Second, while confirming that Mlotshwa is a major AMH shareholder, Ncube reveals that this happened after his media group had failed to attract preferred investors because ‘there was nobody with two million [US] dollars, Gerald is the one who had money…’
“So, from Ncube’s narration, Mlotshwa was effectively an investor of last resort.
“Third, Ncube claims that there are Chinese walls between shareholders and editors as well as reporters to ensure editorial independence at AMH.
“But it’s a prosaic lie with no takers to claim that shareholders in media companies have Chinese walls between them and their editors or reporters. It’s a lie which has been exposed by the experiences of movers and shakers with huge ownership stakes in the global media, such as the likes of Rupert Murdoch.
“Besides, any serious student of journalism who knows anything useful about the political economy of the media will confirm that there are no Chinese walls between media ownership, editorial control, and content.
“In Ncube’s case, it’s foolhardy for him to claim that there are Chinese walls at AMH between shareholders and editors as well as reporters given overwhelming evidence of his brazen interference in editorial matters.
Tellingly, at AMH, the lie is revealed by none other than Ncube himself in the video clip below where he shares this gem of a revelation:
‘By the way, so that you know this thing. When we were looking for shareholders; people like Muleya, I said kuna Dumisani go and find a shareholder with US$2 million, if they are there they can come and buy shares. Ok.
“We are under pressure. If there’s somebody out there with US$2 million. There is, there was nobody with US$2 million. Gerald is the one who had money to put into this and buy the shares that he got.’
“Where were the Chinese walls between shareholders and editors when Ncube asked Dumisani Muleya – then editor of the Zimbabwe Independent at AMH – to “go and find a shareholder with US$2 million?’ because ‘we are under pressure.’
“Surely, an editor who scouts for shareholders with big bucks cannot have editorial independence, and if a majority shareholder and chairman of a media house under pressure, and which desperately needs a shareholder with big bucks can ask an editor of one of the titles in his group to go and find that shareholder, then it stands to reason that he can ask the same editor not to publish [or to publish] this or that story.
“It’s a contradiction for Ncube to say there are Chinese walls between ownership and editorial matters at AMH when, he had no qualms to ask one of his editors to compromises his ethics by venturing into shareholding issues, looking for money, thereby blurring the corruption lines.
“It’s simply not true that there are any professional and ethical Chinese walls at AMH between shareholders and editors or reporters. I for one know this for a fact. I recall the years as information minister when Ncube was both a shareholder and editor of the Zimbabwe Independent.
“The place was a mad house with Ncube – the shareholder running amok as Ncube the editor. This is the only model of media management that Ncube is familiar with.
“In fact, Ncube had a false start, operating as a shareholder and editor at the same time. You can’t be a shareholder and an editor at the same time without compromising ethics. “Simultaneously looking for money and news in one breath inevitably presents a conflict of interest. But then that’s a story for another day.
“Then of course there’s the recent 17 November 2017 astonishing story of Ncube the shareholder tweeting a blatantly false story claiming he could confirm I had been taken to KGVI and detained there, and that false story which was created by him in his head was the big lead story in AMH’s daily newspaper, NewsDay, the next day. What had demolished the alleged AMH Chinese walls between shareholders and editors or reporters on that day?
“Was it Ncube’s foolish thought that he could churn out outrageous propaganda to appease the power that be in the vain hope that they would give him the US$2 million that he desperately sought, and which he eventually got from Mlotshwa; after everyone else had turned him down; or was it that professional and ethical principles of journalism had deserted the then editor of NewsDay on that day?
“It’s about time Ncube stops his preposterous charade and unconvincing posturing that he doesn’t interfere in editorial matters when he does; sometimes he does so in broad daylight like when he attacked NewsDay editors on Twitter over a front page story that correctly reported that the RTGS currency was bound to lose value. This was one of the worst cases of editorial interference by a shareholder, which played out in public.
“Ncube’s snakeoil proposition in the video clip, that he does not interfere in editorial matters is further damaging his already battered reputation. His lie is easy to debunk.
“And to make it all worse, Ncube has a self-serving and vainglorious tagline that he is not his newspapers, and his newspapers are not him. Ok. So, what is he and what are his newspapers, given that neither him nor his newspapers are professional and ethical.