Following an announcement by Zambia’s Minister of Information Fackson Shamenda that the Times Printpak, owner of the state newspaper Times of Zambia, was bankrupt and likely unable to continue operations, the following statement was issued by James Muyanwa, the Chapel President of the Times Lusaka Chapel of the Zambia Union of Journalists.
Unionized workers at Times of Zambia in Lusaka are concerned about Shamenda’s statement which implies that Times Printpak is bankrupt.
Mr Shamenda’s statement has telling effects on the operation of the company as it has sent ripples to all its publics like, employees, suppliers, bankers, advertisers, readers, news sources and others.
We are really surprised that the man entrusted with the company’s shareholding responsibilities on behalf of the more than 13 million Zambians has managed to completely rip-off the hope we and other stakeholders have had in the company.
We feel the statement has adverse repercussions concerning the future of the company.
While it could be true that the Times Printpak could be going through a hard financial time, we feel the answer to this does not lie in us telling the whole world so. As the sole shareholder, the government cannot pass the buck on this.
The government should find funds to recapitalise our company and we feel there is no two ways about. For the company to viably survive, the government has no choice but to pump in sufficient amounts of money and then demand for accountability and hard work.
Interestingly, our Minister has not told the public as to what has happened to the people who could have plunged the company into the current financial malaise. I am sure some people, some whom are still serving the company or the Government, were responsible for the financial mess we are currently wallowing in as workers.
On our part, we feel that not all is lost because we have invested so much in this company and we are not ready to see it sink just like that. It is for that reason that, amid these difficulties, we have put it in our best, sometimes at the point of sweating blood for it.
It is, therefore, important that the Minister and other relevant leaders maintain this hope which keeps the more than 200 unionised employees going. We are not saying the minister should have told a lie that all was well but we feel that truth should have been told on the need-to-know basis not discriminatorily through the media.
As workers, we have seen this company at its lowest ebb and it has survived. I may not be the right person to say that we are witnessing rising public confidence in our paper, the advertisers are returning to us and more readers are able to support us every morning. In short, we are able to compete favourably against all our competitors.
We feel that Times of Zambia still has a future and posterity will judge whoever will try to rush it unnatural death.