ALPHA Media Holdings (AMH) chairman and Mail & Guardian deputy chairman, Trevor Ncube yesterday dismissed reports published in The Star newspaper that his operations in Zimbabwe and South Africa are in financial trouble.
The Star is one of INMSA’s 18 English-language titles.
Ncube said a pattern had emerged that each time reporters from the M&G contacted Surve seeking comment over stories, the latter would take the opportunity to attack him personally or his publications.
“Last year when approached by the M&G’s Centre for Investigative Journalism to explain how he had funded the acquisition of INMSA, Surve’s response was to allege that my businesses were funded by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He has never been able to provide the proof he claimed to have to support this allegation,” he said.
Ncube said while he was on leave last week, the M& G approached Tony Howard, the deputy executive chairman and Takudzwah Hove , the chief financial officer of INMSA with a set of questions on a story that they were working on.
“On Friday, the papers in the independent stable ran stories about M&G and AMH. No effort was made to seek comment from me to verify the allegations,” he said.
Ncube added that sometime last year he turned down Surve’s request for him to halt M&G’s investigations into INMSA’s financial affairs.
“I told him [Surve] I couldn’t do this as I don’t tell our journalists what to write and what not to write and then he seemed very surprised,” he said.
Ncube said he would not be blackmailed into having his papers stop reporting on genuine issues of public concern from any quarter.
“If the purpose of this negative press coverage about me and my businesses is to persuade me to stop our journalists from doing their legitimate, credible and ethical journalism, then I am afraid that this will never happen,” he said.
Ncube explained that M&G and AMH were independent entities with two common shareholders, namely himself and the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).
He said the two companies operated completely independent of each other and were self-sustainable.
For the full statement, click here: Trevor Ncube sets record straight
“Moreover, each company has its own independent board of directors,” said Ncube.
He acknowledged that like all other Zimbabwean companies AMH was dealing with its own challenges
“We founded AMH 18 years ago with one title and 13 employees and we currently employ 315 people across 4 newspaper tittles. We are confident we have the talent, experience and brands to see us through Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis,” said Ncube.
He said M&G was operating under the same economic conditions as the rest of the industry and continued to operate successfully as one of the key independent media voices in South Africa.