Alpha Media Holdings chairman, Trevor Ncube, has dismissed as untrue reports that he told his audience at a lecture in Gweru this week that he had been approached by some political parties seeking favourable coverage in his newspapers.
In an interview on Friday, Ncube said he never said he had been approached for favourable coverage by the two MDC political formations.
Instead, Ncube said, politicians were all complaining that his newspaper stable was taking sides – against them.
“What makes some of these reports even more ridiculous is that they claim I said some of the parties sought to bribe me,” said Ncube. “Surely everyone knows bribery is a crime – taking it or offering it. So how could I have possibly publicly accused anyone of having attempted to bribe me?”
Ncube said in fact, the political parties that had approached him were complaining that his newspapers were taking sides.
“I told my audience that people from the two MDC formations had approached me with complaints that we were taking sides and that we were reporting stories that were against them. My response to the parties, which I clearly shared with my audience at the Gweru lecture, was that we had a clear editorial policy regarding coverage of political parties.
Ncube said Zanu PF politicians also phone him complaining that his papers were pro-MDC and anti-Zanu PF. “The fact that all the political parties are complaining tells me that we are clearly not taking sides” Ncube said. Politicians have a duty to push their political agenda and we have a responsibility to our readers to be professional, independent and impartial, he said.
“I told the audience in Gweru that our editorial policy is guided by the need to observe certain principles that ensure transparency,
accountability, human rights, justice, equality and good governance among other such tenets which advance the interests of the ordinary Zimbabwean,” Ncube said. “That is the mandate that all our editors have. So it is not true that we are anti or pro any political party. The proof is the complaints that we are receiving from all the three major political parties.”
Perceptions would always be there that Alpha Media Holdings was either supporting or attacking certain political parties but they would remain perceptions and not reality, Ncube said.
“We have committed ourselves to be independent of political parties, advertisers, the government of the day or any other organised interests,” said Ncube whose company, AMH owns three newspapers in Zimbabwe including the only independent daily, NewsDay.
“We have seen what partisan journalism does and we do not want to be part of that. We have also realised that Zimbabwe is hurting from polarisation and we would not be doing Zimbabweans any favour by accentuating that polarisation. What we strive to do is to help bring down levels of polarisation and we can’t do that by taking sides. Our aim is to get Zimbabweans debating all issues without fear.”