According to a story in the reputable South African paper Business Day, Robert Mugabe’s party Zanu-PF approached the South African publishing giant Caxton to print a million copies of a voter information booklet on why Zimbabweans should vote for the party that has run the country into ruin (and forced its press underground). Price tag: R3 million ($375 000). Being of sound mind and principle, the former liberal leader of the Progressive Federal Party, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert reportedly threatened to resign as chairman of the company if the deal went ahead, so Caxton declined Mugabe’s money. But then Zanu-PF found another big South African publishing company willing to publish its propaganda. Now who would that be? Here’s a hint: It’s a company that was associated with another oppressive regime in the past. Another clue: the company repositioned itself after 1994 as a global media conglomerate that promises that “whether we are entertaining, informing, educating or creating network solutions, we always do so with integrity”. And it’s a company whose newspapers have consistently taken an anti-Mugabe position in their editorials. But it seems that talk is cheap when money buys the whisky.
Yes, it’s Naspers (its subsidiary Paarl Web did the printing). Rumour has it that a number of the company’s senior journalists are now petitioning the company’s chairman, Ton Vosloo, to donate the proceeds of the printing job to organisations working with the victims of the regime whose voter campaign they helped support.
Cartoon pic: CoxandForkum.com