Mediagate hearings begin

Dumisani Muleya

THE Commercial Arbitration Centre will on Monday start hearings into the suspension of the Zimbabwe Mirror Group of Newspapers CEO and editor-in-chief Ibbo Mandaza.


<
FONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Mandaza’s lawyer Joseph Mandizha confirmed yesterday November 21 has been set as the date of the start of the hearing expected to look into a number of issues.


“The hearing has been set for Monday next week at the Harare Club. It will look into the propriety of Dr Mandaza’s suspension and once you focus on that it necessarily leads into whether those behind his suspension had the power to do so and other related issues,” Mandizha said.


The hearing will be chaired by former chief justice Anthony Gubbay. Gubbay will be assisted by former Institute of Chartered Accountants president, David Vincent, and chairman of the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe, Much Masunda.


The hearing follows High Court judge Bharat Patel’s recommendation that a panel, chaired by a retired judge, be set up to hear and determine the “propriety” of Mandaza’s suspension.


Mandaza was recently suspended from the Mirror by disputed group chair Jonathan Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda in the wake of the disclosures about the takeover of the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) using public funds.


Kadzura and Marangwanda said Mandaza’s suspension had followed a Ernst & Young forensic audit report, but did not specify the nature of the report’s findings.


Mandaza and two Mirror board members, Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi and Amy Tsanga, have dismissed suggestions of any wrongdoing on the part of the suspended Mirror boss.


Mandizha said Gubbay would also look into the Mirror shareholding issue. The CIO effectively controls 70% of the Mirror and Mandaza 30%.


Although the CIO has approved a proposal which says Mandaza’s equity has already been taken over by themselves, Mandaza contests he is still legally a shareholder until such a time when all issues in dispute have been sorted out. He also argues he is still the guarantor of all company loans and debts.


Mandaza has proposed an evaluation of the company so that he can resell the 70% to the intelligence service and his own 30% to a consortium of local tycoons waiting in the wings for the stake. However, the CIO want to have Mandaza’s 30% sold to their existing shelf companies which are shareholders.