Uncle Bob ❤ Old Mutualby Andy Davis / 14.11.2009
There’s an Old Mutual ad with a young black father cuddling his new born child. There’s another of a handsome black father in a construction hard hat, kneeling next to his son, looking natty in his school uniform in front of a row of RDP houses. The images say it all. The visual language speaks of a company with human values. A company that puts people and human development first. Under their corporate responsibility link there’s a whole bunch of gumpf about, “responsible business principles” and “integrity in action”, it says, “it is important for Old Mutual to be an active member of the many communities in which we operate. We express this through our corporate values…” Blah blah blah.
And I’m one of those shmucks with money invested at Old Mutual, but I won’t be for long. Not after the story broke earlier this week that Old Mutual is the second biggest shareholder in Zim Newspapers, the company that owns The Herald and the rest of Zanu-PF’s propaganda newspapers. So that’s how they’re being, “an active member of the community” in Zimbabwe, by supporting the perversion of democracy and bankrolling the dictatorship’s propaganda machine. Old Mutual, to borrow from their slogan, is really, “going the distance” for Mugabe and his cronies in Zim.
As Michael Trapido says in his M&G Thought Leader blog, “Anyone who has been living in Southern Africa for more than an hour would be aware of the atrocities that have been committed by the Zanu-PF and President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe in order to cling to power. One of the most important cogs in the machinery that they employ in order to achieve this is the Mugabe mouthpiece The Herald. It ensures that only the information and disinformation he wants circulated goes out to the people through the major newspaper of that country.”
The Herald apart from the steady work of misinformation, lies, mudslinging and muckracking on behalf of the dictatorship, has also vociferously supported the Youth Militia, known with fear in Zimbabwe as the Green Bombers. Funny that green is also Old Mutual’s colour? Sticking closely to the CI, there boys? The Herald actively encouraged people to enroll their children in these dubious, state sponsored “National Service Camps”. Camps in which untold atrocities were committed and encouraged. Camps, in which it has been reported, most of the female recruits were raped and the male recruits encouraged to do the raping, in between being taught how to kill and torture before being unleashed on the civilian population in order to punish them for voting against Zanu-PF.
Take a look at this article from the UK’s Guardian Newspaper that details the fall out.
And still Old Mutual don’t understand why everyone is so upset. As OM Zimbabwe group chief executive Luke Ngwerume said in a statement on Wednesday. “Old Mutual Zimbabwe will continue to hold this investment for as long as it continues to make investment sense for our policyholders.”
As long as it makes investment sense, huh? But really how much sense can it make to invest in a State controlled propaganda machine that we suspect is running at a loss anyway. Old Mutual would do well to start repairs of their tattered public image by showing the world just how profitable this investment is, lest we should start to think that the investment in Zim Newspapers is simply a way of garnering influence with the dictatorship.
Sign the petition calling for Old Mutual to sell its stake in Zim Newspapers here.
Zimbabwe Democracy Now keeps close tabs on the Herald’s propaganda in weekly reports, here.
Old Mutual set to plow money into child prostitution if it makes investment sense… Check out Hayibo.com’s awesome satirical piece here.