HomePoliticsMediagate: Mirror's Kanengoni fired

Mediagate: Mirror’s Kanengoni fired

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWE Mirror Newspapers Group CEO Ibbo Mandaza, who is also editor-in-chief, has fired his deputy Alexander Kanengoni in the aftermath of the mediagate scandal.

ONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Sources said Kanengoni was fired last week after he failed to attend a disciplinary hearing following his suspension last month in the wake of disclosures by the Zimbabwe Independent of the takeover of three independent newspapers by the state security agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

As has been widely reported by this paper over the past few weeks, the CIO had a buy-out at the Financial Gazette and the Mirror group’s two titles, the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. The CIO, who own the Financial Gazette through a front, reportedly also wanted to take over other newspapers and communication agencies.

“Kanengoni has been fired after failing to appear before a disciplinary committee for a hearing to answer charges of insubordination,” a source said. “A letter of his dismissal signed by the CEO was sent to his Warren Park (Harare) address last week.”

Kanengoni was accused by Mandaza of insubordination, harassment of journalists, shouting abuse, and causing chaos in the newsroom. He was initially suspended on August 18 before his dismissal last week.

Before joining the Mirror, the Chivhu-born Kanengoni (54) was ZBC head of TV services and a CIO media desk officer. He is also an ex-combatant and a short stories author.

Kanengoni’s dismissal came as further information showing CIO control of the Mirror group has emerged. It was established this week there were four directors on the Mirror’s board who had CIO links and not two as at first concluded.

The Mirror’s directors were Mandaza, Kanengoni, Thomas James Meke, Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi, John Marangwanda, Charm Ndaba Mukuwane, Tendai Mangezi who has resigned, and Jonathan Kadzura. Amy Tsanga was appointed later to replace Mangezi. Musi Khumalo resigned.

Sources said four of the eight Mirror directors – Kanengoni, Meke, Mukuwane and Marangwanda – worked for the CIO during different times and represented their interests on the board. This puts beyond any reasonable doubt that the CIO owned and controlled the Mirror group.

Kanengoni’s dismissal follows dramatic clashes with Mandaza in the wake of the mediagate reports. Sources said Kanengoni clashed head-on with Mandaza over how to react to mediagate.

“There was drama at the Mirror after the first mediagate story,” a source said. “Mandaza wanted to react in the Daily Mirror a day after the story, on August 13, but he was blocked by Kanengoni.

“In the process Kanengoni and Mandaza exchanged harsh words. But Kanengoni prevailed for the first four days before Mandaza got his way after roping in politicians.”

After failing to publish a denial on August 13, 14, 15 and 16, Mandaza won support from politicians and then managed to block Kanengoni and his camp’s attempted denial of the story on August 17. On August 18 Mandaza finally got his way to run a denial the following day although the reaction failed to cover up the issue.

This battle of wills, sources said, poisoned the environment at the Mirror and created dangerous hostility between Mandaza and Kanengoni.

“The situation was explosive but what is interesting is how Mandaza wanted to drag Kanengoni before a disciplinary committee when the guy didn’t even have a contract with the Mirror,” a source said.

It was said Kanengoni had been seconded to the Mirror by the CIO and was not accountable to Mandaza as a result.

Sources said although Kanengoni has become the first casualty of the media scandal there would be more victims in the long run. Mandaza is struggling for survival in the group but is still hanging on – at least for now.

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