Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper company Zimpapers has failed to pay staff their April salary due to a cash flow crisis caused partly by unpaid Zanu-PF election ads, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.


Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper company Zimpapers has failed to pay staff their April salary, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.
In a bid to avert a strike, the company’s CEO, Justin Mutasa, issued a letter apologising to the workers and promising to pay them before the end of May.
One Zimpapers reporter fumed: “They know they are paying us peanuts and now they decide to pay us on the ‘40th’ of  the month. How will we pay our bills and how will we survive?”

The letter cites cash flow problems caused by advertisers who are defaulting on payments. Sources from the company's marketing and sales departments say the ruling Zanu PF is the biggest culprit as they have not paid for the full-page adverts that were splashed in the state media publications in the recent election campaign.

Because of the economy and partisan coverage by Zimpapers, the publisher has seen its advertising base drastically shrinking.

Other problems that are bedeviling Zimpapers include newsprint and ink shortages caused by non-payment to the suppliers.

The newsprint shortages has led to the publisher reducing its print run and pages from 32 pages to only 8 or 6 pages.

Apart from increasing the cover charges of its titles the organization has also resorted to a prepayment system for subscribers.

A letter to subscribers reads: “Owing to the current challenging economic environment we have introduced a new subscription system which shall operate on pre-paid deposit system to replace the old subscription system.
“The day’s cover price of a newspaper will be deducted from the account every time we deliver a copy and therefore the balance will be reduced. For our current existing valuable subscribers your subscriptions will be transferred as the initial deposit on 25 April 2008 and we encourage you to top up your balance.”

The financial troubles of the government media saw ZBC being barred again from covering the match between Highlanders Vs El Merreikh of Sudan.

ZBC and Highlanders, who are Zimbabwe’s representatives in the Confederation Cup, are in a dispute over US$4000 worth of unpaid TV rights.
Highlanders wants the broadcaster to pay for the coverage of the match between them against former African Champions Al Ahly of Egypt in the CAF Champions League early 2007.

The Premier league champions say the broadcaster reneged on its promise to pay the TV rights for the live matches it screened. The dispute has previously seen ZBC being barred for covering other matches.

Meanwhile, the editor of community newspaper The Worker has been convicted of practicing without accreditation.

Bright Chibvuri was convicted of contravening section 83(1) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and was fined ZW$2 billion (R200) or 10 days imprisonment.

A MISA –Zimbabwe report says: “Magistrate Dzira said he was convinced by the evidence submitted by the three state witnesses all of whom are police officers who arrested and interviewed Chibvuri at the material time.”
“The magistrate failed to believe Chibvuri’s version that on the date in  question he was simply in Plumtree to oversee a workshop which was being organised by his employer, the ZCTU. He said the fact that Chibvuri had a tripod stand, camera and notebook indicated that he was indeed practicing journalism on the day in question.”

Misa-Zimbabwe has since instructed Chibvuri’s lawyer Munyaradzi Nzarayepanga to file an appeal against the conviction.