Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to be Information Secretary George Charamba, has scoffed at the private media for its double standards -blasting the government for failing to pay civil servants on time when one newspaper group paid its workers October salaries in January.
He also questioned the rationale by the media in asking President Robert Mugabe to cut short his annual leave in the Far East to come and address the national crisis when their own bosses are all outside the country.
“…a small, easy-to-overlook story in the New Year gave me a clue, an answer. The story told us AMH, publishers of Zimbabwe Independent and NewsDay, had paid out part of October 2015 salaries for its staff only in January 2016. Before that story, we had had another one telling us workers had been paid by way of gift vouchers. And before then, the same media house had hit headlines in South Africa for teetering on the commercial brink. Its publication in that country, it was reported, was foundering,” Manheru wrote.
“The story is not very different for ANZ, another private publisher (of Daily News). Here is the puzzle. When you have publishers who have become unfolding commercial disasters in the country, in other countries they are domiciled — disasters on both sides of the River Limpopo — how much standing do they wield to chastise political leaders for the country’s economic challenges? What lessons do their own enterprises impart to the political leadership they daily exhort to create ‘an enabling environment’ for entrepreneurs?
“How do enablers suddenly become accountable for failures of actors? The politician has given them a free reign, an international currency, even an unlimited license to abuse him editorially for screaming headlines they say sell better. Yet these concerns sink deeper and deeper into dire straits. What lessons in management, what lessons in running a country, does one get from such an entrepreneurial record and history? And in an uncanny parallel, owners of both publishing houses are non-resident, permanently reside in South Africa.”
Manheru insinuated that the call on Mugabe to come back was probably a subtle way by the newspaper staff of calling on their bosses to come back and solve problems at their firms.
“The President of the country goes on one, yearly leave, and he is told editorially to stop the leave, or cut it short, in order to hasten home and take charge, lest the country burns. Really? Is that not the message they need for their masters who have escaped to South Africa, if mere presence and on-site supervision is what is required to recover? Why is a similar message not needed by their enterprises? Or are they tactically chastising their bosses through a dummy? Should they not be humble, speak in low tones inspired by the own rabble from where they address the world?”