The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
MINISTER of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Hon Monica Mutsvangwa has commended the turnaround strategy by the country’s largest and diversified media group, Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited.
Last month, the company’s chief executive officer, Mr Pikirayi Deketeke, in a trading update for the first quarter ended on March 2021, reported that the group’s business units were on a recovery trajectory and hoped the momentum will be consolidated moving into the second quarter.
Speaking after touring Natprint and Chronicle building in Bulawayo on Friday morning, Min Mutsvangwa commended the group’s turnaround strategy, encouraging management to invest profits back into the business.
“I am happy to hear that performance of the Zimpapers products has improved since my last visit, with revenue generation going up. I am told advertising revenue has risen from 45 percent to 60 percent and that here in Bulawayo, the newspaper business is now contributing positively to the bottom line.
“Newspapers are now being distributed in more places in Matabeleland (North and South), Midlands and Masvingo provinces. I would like to see you continue to re-open some of those routes that you had closed so as to reach more people with the crucial message you carry,” said Min Mutsvangwa.
She further commended management for arresting the skills flight that was previously being experienced in the company, noting that the organisation was now retaining most of its key staff.
“The welfare of workers is something very close to my heart. Let us continue to do more whenever possible. I am happy that you have been able to keep paying the workers on time and that you pay way above the National Employment Council rates. This is exactly how it should be since you are the market leader and employer of choice in the media and printing industries.
“From the briefing you have given me, I am also happy to hear those measures have been taken since my last visit to equip the newsrooms. There are brand new vehicles for news gathering and newspaper delivery. Laptops and smartphones are also being acquired to allow teams to gather news on the go and disseminate it in real time in line with the fast-changing trends of consumers of content in this highly digitalised era,” she said.
The Minister noted that the diversified portfolio adopted by the company has ensured that Zimpapers is able to withstand challenges that it faces from time to time.
“The company has not reported any losses in recent years. Instead, we have seen huge investments into state-of-the-art radio and television studios as well as printing presses here in Bulawayo and Harare. This we are happy with because it gives us platforms to spread our messages.
“The decision to replace the Bulawayo printing press after 40 years of operation came at the right time. I look forward to the day when even The Herald and Sunday Mail are printed here in Bulawayo so that they get to Victoria Falls, Hwange and even Beitbridge in the morning. This will also keep the distribution costs low,” she said.