For a man considered to be one of President Robert Mugabe’s potential successors, former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s decision to sell the Financial Gazette to Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe which publishes what are essentially known by his party as opposition papers leaves a lot of questions hanging.
ANZ publishes the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.
Zimbabwe’s richest man Strive Masiyiwa was at one time the major shareholder in ANZ but there was talk later that he sold his shareholding to a consortium led by former Econet chairman Norman Nyazema and journalist Jethro Goko.
What has baffled observers about the deal is that Gono’s colleagues in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were interested in the paper, which was once the country’s leading financial newspaper and one of the most profitable in the country, but they only knew it was up for grabs when the deal with ANZ was already sealed.
This has led to several questions why such a paper with a lot of potential was sold secretly and why Gono would not back down when his colleagues offered much more than he had been offered by ANZ.
Although the deal has not been publicly acknowledged, sources say this is a done deal. A removal company was at Financial Gazette offices last week asking a very puzzled staff what needs to be moved to the paper’s new premises at ANZ.
Most of the Financial Gazette are still puzzled about what is happening as they have not been formally told that the paper was sold.
So far the only indication that something is happening has been a memo by the editor-in-chief Hama Saburi that the pink paper, as the Financial Gazette, is affectionately known, has entered into several partnerships, one with the Financial Mail, another with Business Live and with ANZ.
Because the deal has been so secretive, there is wide speculation that Gono could have decided to sell to ANZ to settle an offshore debt or debts, something that the local consortium would not be able to do, not matter how much cash they had, because of the current shortage of foreign currency.
Gono, who had become one of the richest men in the country, has seen his fortunes tumble with one of his biggest projects Lunar Chickens becoming a monumental flop.
Until the deal the ANZ deal is publicly announced, whispers will continue to be bandied around.