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Cablegate: Media Report -- Government-Owned Newspaper

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001577

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S, AF/RA
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT -- GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEWSPAPER
COMPANY SUSPENDED FROM STOCK EXCHANGE


1. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has suspended
Zimbabwe's largest newspaper and publishing company,
the government-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers
(Zimpapers) Group. The company, publishers of "The
Herald" and five other titles, was suspended on
Monday, July 2 for violating the bourse's regulations.
The Government of Zimbabwe owns 51 percent of
Zimpapers shares and exercises tight editorial control
over the company's newspapers.

2. According to ZSE chief executive officer Emmanuel
Munyukwi the suspension is the result of Zimpapers'
failure to hold an annual general meeting (AGM) and
submit an audited financial statement. Munyuki said
the suspension was to "safeguard the shareholders."

3. A Zimpapers spokesman said the delay in producing
an audited financial statement and presenting it to
shareholders was due to "capacity inadequacies." He
also blamed a disagreement between Zimpapers and its
auditors over whether to use the official (Z$55=US$1)
or parallel (Z$650=US$1) exchange rate in assessing
the burden of Zimpapers' 500,000 British pound debt to
an UK-based computer company. The spokesman said that
these problems would be resolved and the company's
shares would be trading again by July 5.

4. Comment: Zimpapers' unaudited financial report
was published in May to great fanfare in the
government-owned newspapers. The unaudited report
showed a $Z30 million profit in 2001 in the wake of a
$71 million loss in 2000. Given the continuing
decline of both circulation and advertising among
government-owned papers, the upbeat May financial
report raised questions. Zimpapers' explanation of
its suspension from the ZSE answered some of those
questions. End comment.

SULLIVAN

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