DESPITE official statements that Sam Sipepa Nkomo had voluntarily stepped down as Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) CEO, the Zimbabwe Independent understands that he was asked to leave by
the board to avoid any hint of “contagion” from his political involvement.
ANZ board chair Prof Norman Nyazema spoke to Nkomo who agreed to resign, insiders confirmed yesterday.
“The board was concerned to ensure that the hard-won reputation of the Daily News for ‘telling it like it is’ is not compromised by anything that might confuse or damage its editorial independence or integrity,” a source said.
Nkomo is standing in the senatorial election in Tsholotsho as an MDC candidate.
Although a statement from the ANZ board says it “accepts with regret the immediate resignation of its chief executive officer”, earlier correspondence between board members indicated a desire to see him go.
Nyazema said in a statement: “Mr Nkomo has made tremendous contributions to ANZ, including during this current difficult period when we can’t publish our titles because of Aippa. On behalf of my colleagues on the board, I want to thank him heartily for his service to the company and wish him well going into the future.”
Nkomo had formerly been boss at the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) which got mired in financial controversy regarding the construction of Angwa City together with fugitive businessman Trevor Carelse-Juul. His seven-month tenure at the helm of the independent daily newspaper culminated in ANZ titles being shut down by the government over his refusal to register under Aippa despite advice from editors in the independent media.
Although Nyazema was circumspect about Nkomo’s dismissal, other board members felt relieved that he had decided to resign.
“It is of course excellent news that Sam has gone and is free to pursue his genuinely felt political ambition, unencumbered by his involvement with ANZ,” said a director.
“So even at this late hour in the run up to this weekend’s election the ANZ in my view should be commended for resolving this matter and protecting its reputation,” the director wrote.
The director said Nkomo’s departure should be seen as another positive step since there is no reason for the MIC to continue to refuse a licence to the Daily News, which should be allowed to resume publishing as a matter of urgency.
Correspondence between board members shows that “the board had agreed unanimously that Sam had to go”.
“It is of course wholly consistent with ANZ’s determination to protect the editorial independence and integrity of the much respected Daily News that Sam should resign, since his political ambition inevitably conflicts with his role as CEO of ANZ,” a board member said in confidential correspondence.