ZimbabweÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s state-owned newspaper publishing company Zimpapers has turned its back on the local currency and is demanding that subscriptions be paid in foreign currency, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.
The financially troubled entity publishes the Herald, Chronicle, Sunday News, Sunday Mail, Manica Post, Kwayedza and Umthunywa.
Sources from the publisherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s marketing and accounts departments say CEO Justin Mutasa has instructed them to charge in forex.
Mutasa told the managers that the action was necessary in order for the company to survive. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFrom now on, after the expiry of all individuals newspaper and corporate bodies subscriptions, be advised accordingly that all renewals of the same must strictly be done in US$ component. Checks and local currency will no longer be entertained,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Mutasa reportedly told his staff.
Because of newsprint and ink shortages the groupÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s flagship daily HeraldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s circulation figures have drastically gone down from 171 thousand to 10 thousand copies.
In their columns, the newspapers continue to attack the use of foreign currency as a method of payment in the country.
Economic analysts say about 70% of the goods and services in critical short supply are only and readily available to those who pay in foreign currencies such as U S dollar, British Pound and the South African Rand.
Because of inflation and cash shortages, if an advertiser wants to pay by check for a front page advert in the business weekly, Financial Gazette, the cost would be Z$1.702.624.730.329.860.00Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â To write that amount in words on a check will be: One Quadrillion, Seven Hundred And Two Trillion, Six Hundred And Twenty Four Billion, Seven hundred And Thirty Million three Hundred And Twenty Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty Dollars.
For hard cash on the same front page, the Earpiece advert costs Z$37,301,835.31
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has reinstated seven journalists fired for not being enthusiastic enough in covering the election campaign of President Robert Mugabe.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
In April this year the state broadcaster suspended and later axed Patrice Makova, Monica Gavera, Brian Paradza, Robert Tapfumaneyi, Garikayi Chaunza, Sibongikosi Mlilo and Robson Mhandu. ZBH accused the journos of not effectively covering President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PFÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s election campaign in the March elections which Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.
Matthew Takaona, president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) says: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are happy to announce that ZBH, realizing the union's resolve to pursue the matter immediately called for a meeting with our lawyer and undertook to restore the payments. ZBC human resources department under Benania Shumba has written a letter to our lawyer to confirm this undertaking.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Represented by ZUJ lawyer, Rodgers Matsikidze the seven broadcasters successfully challenged the dismissal at the Labour Court. In July, the High Court also ordered ZBH to take the seven back with full benefits and salaries since it had illegally fired them.
ZBH refused to reinstate them and pay their salaries and benefits but instead opted to retrench the seven. The broadcaster was then advised that the retrenchment option was also unlawful.