ZAMBIA Daily Mail Limited managing director Bryson Mumba says the company needs a capital injection to operate more viably.
And Mr Mumba says the company is presently making payments towards its statutory obligations through various modes of payment.
He told the Kabinga Pande-led parliamentary committee on information and broadcasting services that there is need for shareholders to urgently recapitalise the firm for it to operate profitably.
Highlighting some of the financial challenges the company is facing, Mr Mumba proposed that Government’s share capital of K25,000 should be increased to K450 million.
He also said the government should consider converting the company’s statutory debt into share capital to restructure and cleanse the balance sheet so that the firm can be more viable.
Mr Mumba said currently, the company has historical statutory obligations to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) of about K52 million before taking into account interest and penalties, while it owes the National Pensions Scheme Authority about K8.5 million in penalties.
The managing director, however, said the company has worked out and implemented some repayment plans with the two institutions.
Mr Mumba said Zambi Daily Mail has some of the best human resource in the country with requisite skills to ably manage the institution profitably but needs to be recapitalised.
Asked by Lukulu East member of Parliament Christopher Kalila and Kasama Central MP Geoffrey Mwamba whether the company would not slide to indebtedness once recapitalised, Mr Mumba said viability strategies have been worked out to sustain the company after recapitalisation and to maintain a healthy balance sheet.
Director of finance Evans Kaliwile said the company is holding on to some members of staff who have applied for early retirement because there are no funds to pay their benefits.
Mr Kaliwile also bemoaned the high cost of production relating to newsprint, which is imported.
And Daily Mail chief sub-editor Chapadongo Lungu told the committee that the newspaper endeavours to give fair coverage to all political players but that this is bed-rocked on public interest.
He also allayed assertions that the newspaper receives instructions from government officials on what story to cover or not to publish.
This was after concerns of unfair coverage raised by Luanshya MP Steven Chungu, who said development activities in some constituencies are not reported and that he is a victim of such bias.
Mr Lungu said the paper reports fairly on all MPs regardless of their party affiliation.
“As a matter of policy, we carry development stories on a daily basis. In fact, we have introduced a column that focuses on constituencies,” he said.
Mr Lungu said the newspaper covers everyone without discrimination because that is a professional demand which is also enshrined in the company’s elaborate editorial policy.
He was commenting on concerns that Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili would be forcing his wish in the newspaper, especially given that he allegedly “stormed” the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation offices a few months back.
“We guard against being prejudicial. We want to see things as they are. Besides, we have our own editorial policy that guides our operations,” he said.
Mr Pande raised concern that the story of Mr Kambwili storming ZNBC was not reported in the Daily Mail.
Company secretary Tafuna Phiri said stories of that nature go through a thorough verification exercise and are only passed if they are libel-free.
The Daily Mail team was also accompanied by chief internal auditor Winford Sichilyango while other members of the parliamentary committee were Mutinta Mazoka (Pemba) and Mundia Ndalamei.
Meanwhile, the committee has summoned the Times Printpak board to answer queries concerning the company’s operational challenges.
Mr Pande told Times Printpak managing director Francis Lwanga that the challenges he presented were beyond him.
This was after Mr Lwanga revealed that the company owes statutory bodies a total of K372 million, painting a gloomy picture of the company.
Mr Lwanga said the company makes a loss of K1.3 million per month.
He further said the company owes K6 million in salary arrears, with management having not been paid the last seven months while unionised employees have not been paid the last four months.
“Come with your board here. The office of the clerk will communicate. We cannot see light with reporters going four months without salaries. This makes them susceptible to corruption and manipulation,” Mr Pande said.
Zambia Daily Mail