The Mail Newspaper Shuts Down

Sources told Radio VOP that the paper failed to secure new printers after terminating a contract with Alpha Media Holding owned Strand printers which has been printing the paper since its launch in April this year.

The Mail has not been printing for almost two weeks now after failing to pay Strand Printers for services rendered and had signed a new deal with Zimbabwe Newspapers Group which would have seen the Herald printing the paper.

However, a  senior journalist said Executive Editor, Barnabas Thondhlana, told workers on Tuesday night that Herald was demanding US$180 000 upfront before the paper can be printed.

“Workers were told to go for a two week paid leave and report for work on September 01 when it is hoped that the paper would have secured the required funds,” said the journalist.

The journalist said company managing director, Hensley Chamboko, has been playing hide and seek with workers for the past two weeks, failing to adequately explain why the paper has not been publishing.

They accused him of mismanagement saying although the market had responded well to the new paper with sales and advertising going up on a weekly basis; he failed to secure a simple printing deal and was instead starting to bootlick media, information and publicity permanent secretary, George Charamba.

“We have been told to come back to work next month, but we fear that the paper is closing down for good like what happened to the now defunct Mirror newspaper which faced viability problems after being taken over by the Central Intelligence Organisation,” said a member of The Mail workers committee.

He said the company initially wanted workers to go on unpaid leave for at least five months to pave way for the arrival of its own printing press which was recently bought in Switzerland at an estimated cost of over one million Euros.

The plan has however been opposed by some of the company executives who fear that this would effectively kill the project.

Chamboko could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone has been off for the past few days. The Mail MD is also reportedly not reporting to work, fearing a confrontation with restive workers.

It is not yet clear who is really behind The Mail project, with speculation that the paper is owned by controversial businessmen John Brednkamp or Billy Rautenbach or even Nicolas Van Hoogstraten. Some have linked the paper to Mines minister, Obert Mpofu and Indigenisation and Economic empowerment counterpart, Saviour Kasukuwere.

The Mail was licensed early last year together with The Daily news which was banned in 2003 when Professor Jonathan Moyo was still Minister of Information.