ANZ response to NewZimbabwe story

HARARE - United Kingdom based website, NewZimbabwe.com today published a misleading story making a series of accusations against Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.

ANZ director, Jethro Goko wrote to NewZimbabwe.com editor, Gilbert Nyambabvu to clarify some gross inaccuracies and false information in the story. 

We publish below the full letter to NewZimbabwe.com.

Dear Mr Nyambabvu

I NOTE your website's continued interest in the affairs of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post, and have no particular problem with this per se.

After all, ANZ operates in the public space and can therefore not expect not to come under scrutiny from time to time.

However, I note that many of your stories on ANZ rarely approximate to the reality at the company.

You also never seem to think that getting a comment from the company might enhance your stories.

A stark case in point is your latest instalment on the company, 'Daily News group cuts correspondents loose'.

You write authoritatively that ANZ plans to retrench several full-time workers in the coming few weeks.

As a longstanding director of the company who is intimately involved with its operations, I can state unequivocally that this is not true.

No retrenchments are planned or have been talked about within the company.

If anything, ANZ is probably one of the few companies in Zimbabwe that has continued to create significant jobs over the past four years, despite the difficult operating environment.

For your information, we had under 40 staff in 2010, before our re-launch, and now employ more than 200 full-time staff, not including scores of casuals, part-timers, freelancers, vendors and others who make a living directly and indirectly in upstream and downstream operations linked to our business.

You also further state in your story that ANZ has laid off all its provincial stringers.

Yet again, this is not true.

What the company has done is to reduce the number of occasional freelancers who augment our regional reporting corps, in order to lessen confusion and to enhance efficiency and accountability in our news processes.

However, we are, at the same time, increasing the number of our contract provincial writers.

You go on to state that the "development comes as the failing economy takes its toll on the country’s fledgling privately-owned media industry".

While I can identify with your observation that the Zimbabwean economy is not performing as well as it should, I disagree with your sweeping statement that all privately-owned media operations in the country are battling.

For your information, ANZ is and has always been a commercial enterprise - a thriving one for that matter.

We make it solely on the income we generate.

Please also be assured that we neither receive any donor funding nor special government treatment to assist our company.

And we are not looking for such support.

And like other normal businesses, we not only pay our staff salaries and other operating costs, we also pay all the requisite statutory payments - which we are managing to do, on our own.

This is why your "sources at the newspaper group" are wrong and feeding you with false, perhaps malicious information when they claim that "the company was facing serious financial challenges which have also resulted in workers receiving their April salaries last week".

There is not one genuine ANZ staff member who did not receive his or her salary in April as alleged.

That is, with respect, a figment of your malicious source's fertile imagination.

If anything, ANZ is again one of the few companies in Zimbabwe that always pays its staff on schedule.

Your story goes on to say that "some of the full-time workers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com also complained that they were not on the company’s pension or medical aid schemes".

Again, I can only surmise that these fictitious staff members are hellbent on maligning ANZ.

For your information, ANZ - in line with global trends - remunerates its staff according to a practice called Total Cost to Company (TCC).

Simply put, the way this works is that staff and the company agree on an all-embracing remuneration, which allows staff members to structure their own earnings the way they want to, as long as this does not transgress national tax laws.

So, and for example, a staff member may decide that their payments to the state-pension scheme (NSSA) - obviously augmented by the company's contribution - is sufficient for them, and therefore won't belong to another, voluntary pension scheme.

Similarly, other staff members may opt, in their wisdom, not to belong to medical aid schemes because they feel that they need all the cash they can get from their remuneration.

Whatever one's views, this is their decision which the company has to respect.

This does not translate, as you imply, that anyone is denied the opportunity to belong to either a pension or medical aid scheme.

Staff are empowered to use their TCC as they deem best for themselves and their families.

As a matter of fact, many staff members do in fact have extra pension arrangements (besides the statutory NSSA) and belong to medical aid societies, budgeting this money from their TCC.

While we do not ordinarily respond to reportage on our company, I feel that it is opportune to do so in this case given the level of misinformation.

In that regard, I do hope that this email assists you to understand ANZ better and more accurately going into the future, and as you continue to show interest in our company.

After all, ANZ remains wholly committed to its masthead slogan of ‘telling it like it is’ and will never concede to those with dubious agendas.

Kind Regards,

Jethro Goko
(ANZ Director)