The former chief executive of the Daily News Sam Sipepa Nkomo told United States embassy officials that he had a list of Daily News staff that were on the payroll of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
Nkomo told this to embassy officials on 22 February 2004 after he had fired 250 workers of the paper who had barricaded him in his office demanding that he address staff-related issues.
The Daily News had resumed publication on 22 January but stopped on 5 February.
Viewing cable 04HARARE315, DAILY NEWS FIRES STAFF
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000315
AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR
AF/PD FOR DFOLEY, CDALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2009
SUBJECT: DAILY NEWS FIRES STAFF
REF: HARARE 302
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) The Daily News (TDN) editor Sam Nkomo and assistant
editor Bill Saidi told the Ambassador over lunch on February
22 that the paper had fired 250 reporters and staff after
they barricaded Nkomo in his office on February 19 to address
various work-related issues (reftel). According to Nkomo,
the paper retained an unspecified number of section heads and
would allow the return of 40 of the 250 fired employees.
TDN’s South African-based Zimbabwean publisher Strive
Masiyiwa had approved the measures. Nkomo confided that he
had a list of an unspecified number of TDN staff who had been
“on the payroll” of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo —
many of whom were from the paper’s editorial staff.
¶2. (SBU) Nkomo advised that TDN would take its time in
reinforcing its staff prior to publishing again, assuming the
government permitted it to publish. He said the court’s slow
pace in deciding the consolidated appeals of its various
legal cases would give it some time, during which it would
retain a core group to continue its internet publishing and
to prepare a reconsolidated work force.
¶3. (C) COMMENT: A difficult recruiting challenge now
supplants a problematic labor situation at the embattled TDN,
much to the delight of Moyo and many in the GOZ. Masiyiwa, a
multi-millionaire who controls a highly successful
international cellular telephone company among other things,
had continued to pay full salary to the entire TDN staff
during the five months the paper was shuttered by the GOZ.
The staff, likely spurred by co-optees among them, chose to
push for huge salary increases, nonetheless. The
complexities of putting TDN back together have grown, just as
Jonathan Moyo and his minions wish.