AMH appoints Public Ombudsman

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Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), the publisher of NewsDay, The Standard and the Zimbabwe Independent, has appointed retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim as its Public Ombudsman with immediate effect.

Trevor Ncube, AMH chairman, said in a statement yesterday the move was another step towards “ensuring that all our publications and multimedia platforms serve readers and advertisers in a manner that is beyond reproach”.

The Ombudsman’s job involves receiving and dealing with grievances from readers and the general public about issues published in AMH’s media platforms.

AMH is the first media house in Zimbabwe to introduce this form of self-regulation which is set to benefit the reading public. “At AMH we have made a pledge to the public that we will be ethical, fair and accountable in our conduct,” Ncube said.

“It is in keeping with this commitment that we are pleased to announce the appointment of retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim as Public Ombudsman with immediate effect.”

The Ombudsman would be independent and accountable only to the public, said Ncube. Justice Ebrahim brings a wealth of experience to AMH.

He will be the first stop the public makes if they believe they have been aggrieved by stories carried in any of AMH’s publications or multimedia platforms.

“The Ombudsman’s brief is to ensure that our journalism is true to the pledge we have made to the public of ethical conduct. This includes balance and fairness in both our professional practice and dealings with the public.

“We believe that only professional and evidence-based journalism of the highest quality is what our society desperately needs now and in the future. We invite members of the public to keep our hard- working team of journalists on the right path by using the free services of the Ombudsman,” Ncube said.

The Ombudsman will have authority to demand apologies and retractions of stories where necessary in addition to imposing fines for transgressions that he considers inexcusable.

“Members of the public who approach him will be required to accept the Ombudsman’s ruling as final and waive their right to approach the courts,” Ncube said.

Who is Justice Ahmed Ebrahim?

Justice Ahmed Ebrahim was born in the town of Gatooma (now Kadoma) in 1937. He studied law in the United Kingdom where he was admitted as a barrister in 1962.

He has worked in Zimbabwe’s legal system for 50 years, starting as a clerk at the Criminal Court in September 1962.

He was at the Attorney-General’s Office for 19 years, rising to the position of Director of Public Prosecution, before he was appointed High Court judge in 1984.

After serving on the High Court bench for seven years, he was elevated to the Supreme Court where he spent 12 years before he retired in 2002.

At his retirement, he was the second most senior judge on the bench behind current Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

In 2004 he was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award by the Indian government for his outstanding role in fostering good relations between Zimbabwe and India.

The award was also in recognition of his personal achievements and in fostering community harmony.

This is the highest honour bestowed to people of Indian origin who are domiciled in other countries.

Justice Ebrahim has served cricket in this country for 40 years, 10 of them as an international match referee.

He is currently one of the five international judges of appeal in Swaziland and is current chair of the committee set up to probe the Asiagate match-
fixing scandal in football.