INDEPENDENT Media Trust (IMT), an investment vehicle for the proposed new owners of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), has made an international appeal for financial support in preparation for a relaunch of the shut-down Daily News after telecommunic
ations mogul Strive Masiyiwa indicated he could no longer fund the paper.
Masiyiwa held a 60% stake in the ANZ, publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, until last year when he donated the shareholding to the IMT. He acquired the stake in the group after injecting capital to save it from collapse.
IMT chairman Norman Nyazema said the re-launch of the Daily News would take up to six months at an estimated cost of $1 trillion because most of the newspaper’s equipment and other resources were seized when the paper was closed down in September 2003.
ANZ has had running battles with government through the Media and Information Commission (MIC), fighting for an operating licence under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Although the ANZ has won a number of court battles, the MIC has denied it an operating licence. But last month a High Court judge ordered the MIC to review the ANZ’s licence application, pointing out that MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso had shown inherent bias against the ANZ. The application is now expected to be handled by a reconstituted board to be appointed by government.
Nyazema said they were confident they would get a licence to start publishing soon. “Legally, we believe there are no grounds for us not to get a licence and we are confident we will get it soon, but the issue now is finding the funds to re-launch the paper,” Nyazema said.
Masiyiwa donated his entire shareholding to a non-profit trust. The beneficiaries of the trust are employees of the company, as well as any independent media development projects which the trustees choose to undertake.
Since its formation, the trust has been primarily raising money for the legal battles as well as paying salaries to the few remaining staff.
Nyazema said until the trust was formed, donors had not been willing to fund the paper because it was seen as a private company owned by Masiyiwa.
Although the trust owns 60% of the ANZ, 40% is still held by private investors including a company owned by Dereck Smail who initially funded the establishment of the Daily News. “Masiyiwa has played his part in this and we want other well-wishers who wish to see this paper continue telling it like it is to come forward and be part of this project,” Nyazema said.