SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Alpha Media Printers in Provisional Liquidation

Alpha Media, one of Zimbabwe's leading newspaper publishers, could be headed for massive staff retrenchments after its printing company was placed under provisional liquidation.

It emerged this week that Strand Multi-print who print the NewsDay newspaper, The Standard, Southern Eye and the Zimbabwe Independent asked the High Court for a liquidation order citing insolvency and non-viability.

A Herald report Monday said Justice Priscilla Chigumba on November 28th granted the order and subsequently appointed Theresa Grimmel of Trivade Pvt Ltd as provisional liquidator.

In the application for liquidation, Strand director and the then Alpha Media CEO, Raphael Khumalo, said the company had lost business due to 'technological changes'.

Khumalo said as a result the company had 'ceased all operations and settled its liability with all its creditors, save, its employees who are owed terminal benefits.'

In a statement in September Khumalo formally announced Alpha Media's intention to retrench some staff members across all departments, including editorial and advertising who are the mainstay of the newspaper business.

Staff members who spoke to SW Radio Africa this week said all was not well in the company with salaries having been staggered. According to some journalists they had by Friday not received their first lot of the December salaries.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute Chairperson, Rashweat Mukundu said Alpha Media's fate was not an isolated one as many companies were facing liquidation due to the country's uncertain economic situation.

Mukundu said the non-viability of the newspapers in Zimbabwe is a 'sad addition' to the media's traditional problems of unfriendly legal framework and political intolerance.

He said if the independent newspapers were to close in their numbers Zimbabwe 'will return to the 1980s era' when only the state newspapers were in circulation.

Alpha Media is the biggest independent newspaper publisher and only this year it introduced the Southern Eye regional daily a development which fed the impression of the company's viability.

But according to the court papers the company's current assets are valued at $ 117 000 with fixed assets worth only $ 100 00.

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