Media giant Naspers has come under fire from its own journalists, who
are angered that a sister company printed election material for
Zimbabwean President Robert MugabeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Zanu-PF, write Borrie la Grange and Werner Swart in The Times.
Journalists at several Media24 titles, a subsidiary of Naspers, have written to the groupÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s chairman, Ton Vosloo, asking him to donate the millions his company reportedly made from the Zanu-PF contract to charities trying to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans suffering under MugabeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s regime.
Paarl Web, a division of Naspers, printed Zanu-PF election material after rival printing house Caxton refused to do so.
Naspers was reportedly paid R3-million for the print job.
Caxton chairman Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert confirmed last night that he refused to allow Caxton to accept the Zanu-PF printing order. He told The Times: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI do not think it is morally defensible to print something for a person like Mugabe. We could never do something like that after the harm he has brought upon the people of Zimbabwe.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The petition calls on Vosloo, a former journalist himself, to donate the payment to charities.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œYou, as a journalist, will understand that accepting the contract places the editorial staff and publications in an uncomfortable position.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur publications have taken a position against any organisation supporting President Robert MugabeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s regime, financially or otherwise. We have been very critical of our own governmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s handling of the Zimbabwean situation,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â the petition reads.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe acceptance of the Zanu-PF contract constitutes, at the very least, a very serious lack of judgment and we hope that Naspers, as the parent company of Paarl Web, will acknowledge this."
Stephen van der Walt, chief executive of Paarl Web, said the print job was done ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œinadvertentlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â for a regular client who acted on behalf of Zanu-PF. He said the election booklets extolled the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ100 things Zanu-PF has done for ZimbabweÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and did not contain hate speech or incitement to violence.
Van der Walt last night said the work was valued at less than R3-million. Paarl Web was in talks with Naspers to determine which Zimbabwean charities would receive the money.
Click here to read the full report, posted on www.sundaytimes.co.zaÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â