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Independent started with $700 000 capital

Mike Curling, Finance Director


IN early 1996 Clive Murphy approached me. He said he and Clive Wilson meant to start a new weekly business newspaper and wanted to know if I would assist.

The only financial weekly then was the Financial Gazette.

Mur

phy had owned the paper before selling it four years earlier. Wilson had been editor.
 
In 1996 the journalistic content of the Fingaz was poor and susceptible to government pressure. They saw the need for an independent, critical and analytical paper which Murphy thought could be viable. I was asked to oversee finances of the new paper and run the salaries.

At the time I had a full time job as finance director of Jetmaster (Pvt) Ltd, thus my involvement was part-time.

The two Clives had $700 000 from their own resources as start-up capital: sufficient to secure offices at 1 Union Avenue (Suite 23), buy furniture, computers etc. Editorial, production and administrative staff were recruited.

Current group personnel who began work in May 1996 were Trevor Ncube as first editor. Ncube is now publisher and proprietor. Iden Wetherell, now group projects editor and a director, began as assistant editor. 

Joram Nyathi, now deputy editor, was the sub-editor. Sennie Musambasi started in production and Millie Masuku began as sales administrator. Excluding the two Clives, initial staff complement was 14.

Other original employees were Sunsleey Chamunorwa, Basildon Peta, Nick Nyanhete and Barnabas Thondhlana.
Vincent Kahiya, current editor, joined in April 1997 and Chengetai Mutseyekwa (neé Gurupira) in July 1996. She is now executive assistant to the CEO and chairman. Mercy Moyo joined the production department in October 1996.
The first gross salary bill for the paper was under $100 000. A year later total salaries came to under $163 000; the staff had grown to 19. More importantly the venture was successful.

Advertising representatives were under the control of Sarah Thompson who put together a dynamic sales team, which included Janet Hogan, later to become both general manager and a director.

For the first seven months of 1996 the paper was published by Sovereign Publishers (Pvt) Ltd. From December 1996 the Independent was published by Zimind Publishers (Pvt) Ltd. The change was made to allow Sovereign Publishers to become the printing company for the Independent and later the Standard.

Subscriptions and distribution were handled by Publications Distribution (Pvt) Ltd, a Clive Murphy company within his Nationwide Newsagents group then run by Jim Felgate from Mandara premises owned by Murphy and Wilson.
Within a year of starting the Independent the two Clives saw the need to launch a Sunday paper before competition appeared.

The Zimbabwe Standard, later the Standard, first published in April 1997 with the late Mark Chavunduka as editor and Tendai Mutseyekwa as sub-editor. Tendai is now group marketing manager. Walter Tawamba was an original production employee.

The initial staff complement was 12 and the first month’s salary bill $82 000. A year later the salary bill was $137 500 and the staff had grown to 16. In due course the paper established itself in what is now the advertising and marketing floor in Suite 8 on the first floor of block three, two floors down from the Independent which grew to take over Suite 24 on the third floor.

An entrepreneur, Clive Murphy recognised a market opportunity and exploited it. The result was two important additions to Zimbabwe’s media.

It is a privilege to have made a small contribution to the end result.

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