HomePoliticsParadza sues Mahoso, MIC

Paradza sues Mahoso, MIC

Vincent Kahiya

BELEAGUERED politician and publisher Kindness Paradza yesterday filed an urgent court application to get his newspaper, the Tribune, back on the streets.

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The Tribune was closed last week by the Media and Information Commission (MIC) on the grounds that there had been irregularities in the change of ownership of the paper.

The closure came after a series of attacks on Paradza, a former journalist and now Zanu PF MP for Makonde, in the state media accusing him of collaborating with directors of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the currently banned Daily News, and criticising government’s media laws in his maiden speech to parliament.

Paradza is the major shareholder in Mayzone Investments which bought Africa Tribune Newspapers (ATN) – publishers of the Tribune – from UKI Investments in March. He is viewed as having fallen victim to the current power struggle in the upper echelons of Zanu PF which has seen unprecedented attacks on senior Zanu PF officials in the pages of the official press.

Paradza yesterday filed an urgent High Court application seeking interim relief to be allowed to publish.

Last night it was not clear when the case would be heard. The paper’s group operations director Nevanji Madanhire said the paper would be published as soon as the interim relief had been granted.

Paradza, together with four co-directors, filed the suit against the MIC and its chairman, Tafataona Mahoso.

In his founding affidavit, Paradza averred that the cancellation of the paper’s licence was ultra vires provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and was biased.

“This application will show the cancellation of the applicants’ lice-nce was manifestly unlawful, unjust, excessive, irrational, grossly unreasonable and irregular on account of self-evident bias,” he said.

He said the paper employed 60 permanent staff who had been immediately affected by the closure of the paper. He said as of Friday last week the paper had debts amounting to $1,73 billion.

Explaining the shareholding structure, Paradza said at the time UKI decided to sell its shareholding in ATN the publishing company had a share capital of 20 000 shares of which only 100 had been issued. He said the new shareholders then bought the available 100 shares “which translate to 100% control of ATN”.

“The (other) 19 900 shares remained and remain unissued as was the case when UKI (Pvt) Ltd owned the controlling interest,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, the MIC said the new directors owned just 0,5 % of the company by virtue of the 100 issued shares.

“Therefore, failure to produce board resolutions on the fate of the 19 900 shares was one among the several reasons for the cancellation of the licence,” the MIC said.

Paradza said problems for the papers started after an article in the Sunday Mail on April 25 which stated that he wanted to bring back the Daily News clandestinely by seeking funding from ANZ major shareholder Strive Masiyiwa.

“I respectfully believe that the chairman of the commission, Dr Mahoso, was excited by this false and defamatory article into confusing himself with its politics.

“It is from there that problems started,” Paradza said in the affidavit.

Paradza said the MIC had expressed its intention to cancel the Tribune licence, saying the paper had violated Section 71 of Aippa. The section deals with change of ownership.

“The commission was grossly in error on both the facts and more so the law in its approach to the issues which supposedly were of concern to it.

“The commission was mistaken because a failure to notify the commission of any changes is not a contravention which qualifies for a cancellation or suspension of a licence,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Southern Africa Editors Forum (SAEF) has blasted Chronicle editor, Stephen Ndlovu, for “distorting the truth” and “conducting himself in a manner unworthy of a journalist and editor”.

In a statement issued yesterday, SAEF sharply criticised an article authored by Ndlovu that appeared in the Chronicle last week purporting to report presentations at a forum jointly hosted by SAEF and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) in Windhoek, Namibia, recently.

In the article, Ndlovu alleged that Gugulethu Moyo, who was one of the panellists, had proposed war as a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

Moyo, formerly a legal representative for the banned Daily News, is now a media law and policy programme manager at the Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) in Windhoek.

“SAEF has noted with dismay that the article written by Ndlovu and carried in the Bulawayo Chronicle … is in fact riddled with blatant fabrications, distortions and mischief,” the statement said.

“SAEF does not intend to address each of the false and malicious fabrications by the Bulawayo Chronicle, except to state for the record that the articles are a total distortion of the truth, contain substantial and obvious fabrications and therefore an unprofessional act unworthy of any journalist and editor.”

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