New Ziana, formerly known as the Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency,Â is owned by the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust and runsÂ a news agency and a stable of provincial newspapers based in the provincial capitals.Â After the formation of the MDC in 1999, the provincial papers have been accused of churning out propaganda aimed at sprucing up the image of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
The company shut down its printing company recently and laid off all the workers that were based at the plant located at Number 2 Bedford Road in Gweruâ€™s light industrial area. Two of the printing presses have been uprooted from the plant and placed at Gweru Times, the Midlandsâ€™s community paper of the CNG – where they are gathering dust.
Failed to pay rent
Investigations carried by The Zimbabwean revealed that poor management and corruption by the companyâ€™s top management based in Harare are responsible for the collapse of the company. Reports say the management failed to pay its rent to estate management company Trevor Dollar, which manages the property where the printing works was stationed.
Sources at Trevor Dollar indicated that the backlog on rentals that New Ziana failed to pay up had reached about $1 000. â€œNew Ziana always failed to pay its rent and we ended up losing patience with them. We were prepared to negotiate with them but they just said they were shutting down the printing company,â€ said the source.
Workers say they are now battling to get paid for their services after working for more than 10 years for the firm. â€œThe bosses in Harare mismanaged the running of the company resulting in great losses. If you look at it, the printing presses are now just dumped at Gweru Times and there is no sign that the bosses even care about them. Now they canâ€™t even pay us,â€ said a disgruntled worker.
Other sources said government, which has been pouring funds into CNG, is considering pulling out. â€œWe have some tips that the government is going to also pull out as it has done in other state media centres like ZBCâ€™s Voice of Zimbabwe, which has since closed shop.
The future of the CNG is now really hanging in the balance. There have been reports of looting and mismanagement of funds at head office,â€ said the source.
Rangarirai Shoko, New Zianaâ€™s chief executive officer, was constantly said to be out of office when sought for comment throughout the week.