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Uncle Bob ❤ Old Mutual

Uncle Bob ❤ Old Mutual

by 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.

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  1. meghan says:

    compliments to the artist – jason –

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  2. Mary says:


    Nice article, I wish I could bomb Old Mutual (not with graffiti). I wish I was shocked. But unfortunately I have come to expect this kind of thing from the capitalist machines that insurance companies (and mining companies, and our current government) are. You always notice how the best, most feel-good ads are by the companies who do the most to exploit consumers? Any time you watch an ad and get a fuzzy feeling – know that that company is the devil.

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  3. rusty says:

    the response of the old mutual (black )talking head puts us back to the 1970;s-profit first ,to hell with principle or morals .didnt the ANC demand disinvestment during apartheid on these same grounds and was this not the white SA response ? shame on you bro.

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  4. Mo says:

    Great article and thanks for the links.

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  5. simmo says:

    good piece… just made my old mutual RA paid up…not another cent will leave my pocket for them.

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  6. The Oracle says:

    Hey guys, what on earth do expect OM to actually do ? sell now ?, this is ridiculous.
    The time to sell out of Zim was years ago. Now it is probably a good time to BUY.

    Recall the old saying “buy when everyone else is selling and simply wait until
    everyone else is buying”…… easy.

    Clearly, Bob will not be around for much longer. Remember the trick is to
    BUY LOW, SELL HIGH not the other way round. That’s how you can live for

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  7. Sleaze says:

    Great article Andy, I just returned from a month in Zim, and I am surprised at the good feeling you still get up there. Bizarrely enough given the extent of mad BOB’s human right’s violations extending back to the massacres in Matabeleland to the slum clearances in 2007, they have gone beyond hate for him and they laugh at him for the senile old man that he is. Sadly it is South African interests extending from Mbeki’s: “struggle chums quite diplomacy” to the continued SA corporate involvement with his Zany PF s cronies companies, that is keeping his tenuous hold on power till this day. Targeted sanctions are working as been demonstrated by Mugabe’s recent pleas to MDC to stop sanctions.
    Pressure will work. Whatever Zuma said in the recent SADC conference did get the process back on track; he for one though, is simply not doing enough. (Maybe he needs to finally get that bloody machine gun he keeps asking for. He is the president for fuck sake! I am sure Armscor can organise a presidential edition, probably sell more than the Mandela commemorative coin, what self respecting diamond smuggler would not want to have a ZUMA limited edition AK?)
    SA companies do have a responsibility for justified ethical investments, considerably more than Ned banks’ (an OM holding) facile environmental concerns. We need more pressure not less,
    Yes My Oracle (In Zim though I am pretty sure most will not think your words are very wise) do invest in Zimbabwe but do not invest in any companies which have clear links to the old (and still current) regime, if you need a list here is one to go on http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/sanction_list.html, the nice chaps at the UN should be able to give you an updated one, sure for OM only an email away. And there is a struggling independent newspaper called the Zimbabwean that could certainly do with some investment in the present transitional period where freedom of information is so vital.
    I am signing a petition, but who is up for more, maybe some Michal Moore style intervention with the CEO of OM, I am game who has a video camera?
    As for Seth over at 2Oceans Vibe he would sell his mother for publicity and a free lunch with whatever B list celeb is currently the flavour of the month

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