HARARE – Zimbabwe media mogul Trevor Ncube has hit back at claims by a rival South African newspaper “The New Age” which claims that he “continues to live a lavish lifestyle while his media empire is crumbling.”
Ncube owns the Mail & Guardian in South Africa and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) in Zimbabwe. AMH publish NewsDay, The Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and The Southern Eye newspaper, which closed recently.
Quoting staffers at Ncube’s various newspapers “The New Age” claimed “salaries are paid late and that his Zimbabwe newspapers employees only received part of their August salaries last week.”
“In the past three months, AMH has reportedly retrenched nearly half of its staff. The group also used to cover 75% of the workers’ medical aid but reduced that to 50% while allowances such as transport, housing and education are now considered a luxury and have been scrapped.
“They also cut salaries for managers. For instance, they are no longer paying fees for their children, they stopped paying their DStv subscriptions and they no longer get fuel,” the source told The New Age newspaper.
It was claimed that despite these challenges, which forced the Zimbabwean company to ditch 30 staff members in the past three months, Ncube had “recently purchased a R10m house in Hyde Park and a Mercedes-Benz last year.”
The same problems were said to be affecting the Mail & Guardian which had “shrunk its editorial staff from 60 to 41.”
“Some senior journalists, including the science editor, online news editor, three sub-editors and multimedia editor opted for voluntary packages at the Mail & Guardian as the company hit hard times. However, they are yet to receive their severance packages,” The New Age newspaper claimed.
“Claims are that when crisis hits hard, the company taps into donor money aimed for the health desk and AmaBhungani. AmaBhungani has reportedly cut ties with the M&G due to non-payment and the publication abusing its donor funding,” the paper went on.
On Tuesday Ncube used social networking site Facebook to rubbish the claims describing them as “fiction published about me in Gupta owned New Age in South Africa….. My attitude to the fiction remains this: l refuse to give facts to determined fiction and creative writers lest the facts affect their stories.”
Ncube also said the comments below the story posted on Facebook “reveal what is so wrong with Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans….. So much hate and jealousy in the comments below the post as befitting people in a celebratory mood.
“One would be forgiven in thinking that those celebrating will get to inherit what they think I am about to lose. And some of the hate comes from people I have opened doors to and helped in their careers like Wonder Guchu (journalist).
Below is a summary of the claims made against Ncube
» Ncube travels every week in business class and stays in five-star hotels
» He insists on attending the World Economic Forum and other world events while his reporters cannot travel outside the province to do stories
» He is paid more than R200000 a month and the company is reportedly paying some of his household expenses
» He has a personal coach and uses overseas consultants who are paid first before anyone else
» The commercial team is threatening to embark on a go-slow unless their commissions are paid. They were also asked to take salary cuts
» Freelancers and everyday contributors send emails to the finance department about non-payment. Some columnists have stopped and refused to work for M&G
» Meanwhile, reports are that Ncube is considering selling M&G. A few months ago, he closed down his Bulawayo publication Southern Eye. Some of his reporters in Zimbabwe claim they earn as little as $500 (R6800) a month