Journalists at Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), the country’s largest private media house, have threatened to down tools citing low wages and unfavourable working conditions.
The development also comes after journalists at the Zimpapers Bulawayo branch also declared incapacitation due to low salaries.
AMH publishes the NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard newspapers and also owns Heart and Soul, an online radio and television station.
The media company was founded and is owned by publisher Trevor Ncube.
In October 2022, the company confirmed through a statement that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son-in-law, Gerald Mlotshwa had acquired shares in the company.
In a letter, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) AMH branch addressed to the national ZUJ executive, the employees said their salaries have been eroded by inflation and they are “finding it extremely difficult to afford to put decent meals on our tables, clothe ourselves and our families, pay for our rentals and worse even come to work on a daily basis”.
“We are requesting that salaries be pegged in United States dollars or the equivalent on our contracts indexed to the official bank rate.”
The ZUJ national executive confirmed the development.
“We have received a notice of incapacitation from our members at AMH who are finding it difficult to report for work due to the meagre salaries and dehumanising wages they get. Information we have is that as much as they wanted, our reporters have failed to report for duty today,” the union said.
The poor salaries across the media industry is now an existential threat. Employers need to be sensitive and pay dignified salaries. We expect US550 for junior reporters. These are the figures at AMH, ZWL260 000 for senior reporters and 255 000 for junior reporters”
Insiders at AMH confirmed that the letter was forwarded to management who quickly convened a meeting involving editors and managers to try and avert a crippling strike.
“The AMH worker’s committee has since written another letter to management announcing incapacitation of the whole workforce including drivers, marketing, accounts and printing department,” said the source.
Journalists also pointed out that they are faced with transport challenges when going on official duty and they are short-staffed in the newsroom and they are made “to write across all three publications, which is against their contracts”.
“All the above-mentioned challenges affect the quality of our work, yet we strive every day to reach international standards and be the “pinnacle of journalism” in the country.”
Writing in the latest edition of The Newshawks, former government minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said there was serious corruption at AMH involving editors.
“Reporters are fed up with all these acts of brazen corruption at AMH. These stories will be told in full one of these days, while (Trevor) Ncube is busy acting holier-than-thou, with his head deeply and irretrievably buried in the sand like an ostrich; ridiculously pretending to be an anti-corruption paragon of virtue,” Moyo wrote.