Cracks widen at Mirror

Dumisani Muleya

INFIGHTING at the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group is escalating in the aftermath of disclosures about its ownership, with the company now run by rival factions.



T face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>This came amid reports that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) this week summoned Mirror CEO Ibbo Mandaza to discuss an audit report which unearthed financial improprieties at the Mirror.


The CIO has reportedly taken over the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, as well as the Financial Gazette using public funds stashed at a local bank. The intelligence network also has vast media interests elsewhere as part of its covert campaign to win hearts and minds.


The Mirror reportedly secured $38 billion from the central bank although some of the money came from the CIO. A forensic report by Ernst & Young is said to have discovered financial misappropriation at the media house. The CIO were understood to have summoned Mandaza to discuss this.


“The report is so damning,” a source said. “Mandaza is said to have gone to the company bankers and removed his managers as signatories so that he can withdraw all the monies after the board took a resolution that no payment shall be made without express authority of the chairman,” a source said.


“In the process more than $1,6 billion is said to have been withdrawn from the CBZ (Jewel) Bank Kaguvi Branch account. The company is likely to have difficulties in paying September salaries due to the financial crisis.”


Sources said the CIO was slowly turning the financial screws on the company and the workers could end up caught in the crackdown. Members of journalists’ associations said they were concerned about the possible plight of the workers.


In reaction to last week’s “board meeting” convened by Mandaza and his faction, the group’s board chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, held a counter board meeting with directors last Thursday. Kadzura and his group were “fired” by Mandaza although they represent the interests of the major shareholder.


After a series of dramatic events at the Mirror, the Mandaza camp was said to be trying to tighten its grip on the administration and management of the company, while the Kadzura faction was fighting to retain overall control.

Sources said after the Mandaza group, comprising Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi, now acting chair, and Amy Tsanga, met last week, Kadzura and his camp came together to plot counter measures to re-establish control.


Kadzura’s group includes Thomas James Meke, John Marangwanda, Charm Ndaba Mukuwane, and Alexander Kanengoni – who worked for the CIO – representing the main shareholder.


The other directors Joyce Kazembe, Tendai Mangezi and Musi Khumalo have resigned. Kadzura said last week he would issue a “comprehensive statement” on the matter.


Sources said the Mirror war, triggered by medigate disclosures, centred on “money, control and influence”.


“Following a fallout with the major shareholder, Mandaza reconstituted the Mirror board as consisting only of those on his side,” a source said. “He is unilaterally disowning the Shareholders’ Agreement which was brokered by a lawyer called Kassim (the same attorney who brokered the Financial Gazette deal) at the Gallop Building (corner Herbert Chitepo and Sam Nujoma streets).”


The bone of contention at the Mirror, the source said, started over the issue of loans after the company was taken over and about Mandaza’s status after he sold a major stake in it.


“The company loans are still being secured by his personal property. The major shareholder did not do that and Mandaza is now claiming those are the grounds of the collapse of the agreement since each shareholder was supposed to secure company loans in proportion to one’s shareholding,” the source said.


“The agreement specifies that Mandaza shall be the publisher, CEO, and editor-in-chief. He has wielded too much power as if he is still the major shareholder and that’s where the battle for control stems from.”