The Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group, which is owned by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), is in an "extremely precarious" financial position, minutes of a recent board meeting reveal, write Dumisani Muleya and Ray Matikinye in the Zimbabwe Independent.
The paper owes creditors almost $160 billion due to poor advertising and circulation.
This comes as the Daily Mirror has hired a new editor, Dr Joseph Kurebwa, from the University of Zimbabwe to take over the editorial department of the paper which the CIO has wrested control of. Kurebwa’s employment, which has divided the Mirror board, was part of a rescue package promised to the company by its "shareholder", minutes of a board meeting held on June 23 disclose.
Kurebwa last year predicted in a survey that Zanu PF would win 72 seats in the general election and the party won 78 seats. He also forecast the MDC would win 45 seats and it won 41.
The meeting was attended by board chairman Jonathan Kadzura, his deputy John Marangwanda, Charm Makuwane, Alexander Kanengoni and acting CEO Tichaona Chifamba. Board member Thomas Meke was absent. The current board largely represents the CIO interest in the Mirror.
The minutes obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent show that the company, whose titles include the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, is in deep financial trouble and is saddled with a staggering debt profile that threatens its survival.
The minutes say the Mirror group has been performing poorly as a result of "low circulation and low advertising". The company owes $108 billion to its bankers and $50 billion to creditors.
Kadzura told the June meeting that the company was in dire straits and an urgent rescue plan was needed. He suggested that the best way forward would be for the company to buy its own printing press and image setter. The cost was US$1 million for the printing press and US$48 000 for the image setter, the minutes say.
Click here to read the full report, posted on the Independent's website.