6 July 2012

Zambia: Times of Zambia to Float Shares

A reputable media institution within the Southern African region has expressed interest to buy shares in the Times of Zambia or the Zambia Daily Mail, Information, Broadcasting and Labour Minister, Fackson Shamenda disclosed yesterday.

Mr Shamenda said Cabinet was yet to decide on the matter before making it known to the public.

The minister made the disclosure in Lusaka during the inauguration of the Times Printpak Board of Directors at the newspaper company's offices on Freedom Way.

"This board has an unenviable task of presiding over an institution that needs to be turned around. The Times of Zambia has a number of challenges in virtually all areas of operations.

"Government, which is the shareholder, does not have sufficient resources to recapitalise the Times of Zambia let alone the Zambia Daily Mail due to other competing national needs," Mr Shamenda said.

He said this was the more reason why Government was looking at options of partially privatising either one or both public media institutions.

"As I speak now, a very strong and highly reputable media institution in the region has expressed interest to acquire shares in either the Times of Zambia or the Zambia Daily Mail.

"The public will be informed once Cabinet has made a decision on this matter," Mr Shamenda said.

He said before such a step could be taken, it was inescapable that the boards of both newspaper companies positioned themselves in readiness for this.

Mr Shamenda said the Times board had a daunting task of turning around the company and make it more viable.

The Government, as the appointing authority, would look up to the leadership of the new board to ensure that the Times operated as a viable and vibrant business entity.

Mr Shamenda said it was important to draw a distinction between the functions of the board and those of management for effective overall running of the company's affairs.

"So Mr board chairperson, you can see that yours indeed is a daunting task. We will count on your expertise, experience and skill you possess individually and collectively, to surmount these challenges. I am confident that we have a winning team.

"Together, we have a duty to grow a media that will advance public rather than narrow partisan interests," Mr Shamenda said.

He asked the board and management to relook at the issue of having the company's head office situated in Ndola with the possibility of moving it to Lusaka.

Board chairperson, Michael Musonda said his team would endeavour to work hard to help turn around the company.

"We recognise that the company has challenges. We will put in our best to correct the situation and drift the company to safe waters," Mr Musonda said.

He said the company had great viability to be profitable and that this, coupled with a conducive environment, the situation could change for the better.

The company board members are Information Permanent Secretary, Amos Malupenga, Multi-Choice Zambia General Manager, Simon Bota, retired High Court Judge, Kabazo Chanda, and Bank of Zambia Director of Human Resources, Penelope Mapoma.

Others are Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council Executive Director, Engwase Mwale, Mau Farms Executive Chairperson, Lawrence Moola, University of Zambia lecturer, Eustace Nkandu and Times Printpak Zambia Managing Director, Godfrey Malama.

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