YET another corporation is coming under fire for its direct involvement with the Robert Mugabe regime, after South African insurance giant Old Mutual admitted it is a major shareholder in Zimpapers, writes Alex BellÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â for SW Radio Africa.
Old Mutual this week confirmed its business interest in the publishing group which produces, among others, the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mouthpiece Herald newspaper. South African refugee rights group, People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) explained that Old Mutual is the second largest shareholder in Zimpapers, essentially using insurance policy holdersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ money to prop up MugabeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s vehicles of propaganda and hate speech.
PASSOPÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Braam Hanekom, a Zimbabwean born activist, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that Old Mutual was essentially ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“armingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ the state media, arguing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œthis is politically equivalent to putting bullets into the guns that kill opposition voices in Zimbabwe.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hanekom has demanded that Old Mutual publicly withdraw its stake in Zimpapers, saying the groupÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s refusal to do so will point towards a business relationship based purely on corruption.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOld Mutual is not making money out of selling newspapers in Zimbabwe, not so much that they canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t, on moral grounds, withdraw their stake,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hanekom said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s no other reason to protect its stake unless there is corruption.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
PASSOP started an online petition on Tuesday night, which calls for Old Mutual to withdraw its Zimpapers investment and publicly apologise. The petition is set to be delivered to Old Mutual management within the next seven days. Hanekom warned on Wednesday that the group will start protest campaigns against Old Mutual if their calls and the petition are ignored.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œCompanies cannot continue to plead ignorance about their business relationships, when they know these relationships are not morally supported,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hanekom said.
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