HomeLocalMediagate arbitration deadline expires

Mediagate arbitration deadline expires

Dumisani Muleya

THE Commercial Arbitration Centre has not yet appointed a panel to look into the suspension of the Zimbabwe Mirror Group of newspapers CEO and editor-in-chief, Ibbo Mandaza, despite the expir

y of the two week timeframe.

This came as it emerged the job security and conditions of work for the journalists and other employees at the Mirror group have been slightly improved by the state security agents who took over from Mandaza.

Mandaza was suspended from the Mirror group, publishers of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, in the aftermath of Mediagate disclosures involving the takeover of the two private newspapers by the state security apparatus using public funds. The intelligence service reportedly has an interest in the Financial Gazette and has now spread its tentacles to other media-related operations.

Mirror workers last week got a 60% salary increase backdated to July on the basis of their June salaries. “They were paid last week and this has boosted morale among the employees,” a source said. “There are efforts to recapitalise the company and ensure it does not collapse due to the current crisis.”

Sources said the Mirror group last week got $10 billion from the central bank, bringing the money it received from monetary authorities to $30 billion. The company got $10 billion last year and another $10 billion in July.

State security agents have been financially propping up the Mirror.

High Court judge Bharat Patel recently recommended a labour dispute panel, chaired by a retired judge, should be set to up to determine the “propriety” of Mandaza’s suspension from the group by disputed Mirror chair Jonathan Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda.

Kadzura and Marangwanda said recently Mandaza’s suspension followed an Ernst & Young forensic audit report into the Mirror finances, but did not specify the nature of the report’s findings.

Two other Mirror directors Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi and Amy Tsanga said the report was a product of a fraudulent board meeting by Kadzura and his colleagues.

Patel said in a ruling on October 13 that the panel “shall convene and commence the task herein set out within two weeks of the date of this order”. The two weeks elapsed yesterday.

However, the parties involved said the panel had not yet been appointed. “It hasn’t been appointed and we are still waiting to find out when it will be established,” a source close to the case said. “We will continue waiting to see the latest developments on the issue.”

Mandaza also confirmed the panel had not yet been appointed, saying he did not know when it would be constituted and start meeting. “It hasn’t been appointed. I don’t know when it will be appointed but it’s not there at the moment,” he said.

Besides a retired judge, the panel to hear Mandaza’s case is expected to include a member from the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe and the Chartered Institute of Secretaries or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe.

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