Newspaper owner Ncube reaches out to ED government

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By Leopold Munhende

ALPHA Media Holdings owner Trevor Ncube on Monday moved to reach out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration after his decision to double cover charges for his papers elicited a strong reaction from Information and Publicity Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi with copies of the NewsDay snatched and burnt by suspected government sympathisers recently.

Ncube last week hiked the prices of the NewsDay, Standard and Independent papers over viability concerns brought by a pricing upheaval in the country.

The decision sparked nasty Twitter exchanges between the newspaper proprietor and Mutodi.

The businessman on Monday met Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, her deputy Mutodi as well as ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana at government’s Munhumutapa Building to iron out the differences.

He later spoke about his visit to one of the country’s most powerful offices.

“We can feel that there is a new breeze blowing through this building and through this ministry; we had a fantastic meeting prior to this meeting and I think the bottom line is that we all have one country to serve and that country is Zimbabwe.

“We might differ on the speed on which things are going but generally speaking we are agreed on the direction and destination where we are all going; we want to go to a place where there is prosperity for everyone as the president says it and says it in a manner that is consistent jobs, jobs, jobs; roads being repaired, jobs being created and we are delighted as private media,” Ncube said.

When Robert Mugabe was still President, he described the private media as opposition papers while his wife Grace also rebuked Ncube’s papers for allegedly taking a position against both Zanu PF and the then first family.

The businessman has said he was not at ease with his publications labelled as an extension of the opposition.

Ncube, who backed President Mnangagwa candidacy ahead of the July 30 election, said he would want to play a part in helping the country realise its full potential.

On its part, the Ministry said it was willing to mend bridges with everyone including publications that have been viewed hostile to government.

“That means embracing everyone, including those who we agree with and those we may not agree with. The idea is not to have a pliant media, but a media that is robust and vibrant (and) in its different ways serving the national interest,” said the ministry in a statement.

“This ministry in not going to have an ‘Us versus Them’ attitude, but will treat all players as relevant Fourth Estate supporting our mantra of Zimbabwe is open for business in their different ways.

President Mnangagwa, once accused of going all out to capture local media, is keen to see the toning down of media rhetoric around his administration and has been seen taking selfies with journalists with promises of opening up the media space.

“We are opening the media space and the airwaves for Zimbabwe’s plural views to find channels of outlet. This ministry is going to have an open-door policy. As long as your ideas add value to the national interest, everyone will be seen and be heard,” said the Ministry on Monday.