Zimbabwe's First Black Publisher Dies

He passed away at St Annes Hospital in Avondale on Wednesday night.

A family spokesman said details for the funeral arrangements were still being worked out as they await the arrival of his children currently based in the United States of America (USA). “His children are still sorting out travel arrangements. So details on the funeral arrangements will be known later,” said the family spokesman.

He was born on 18 July 1941.

A former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers), Rusike bought The Financial Gazette from the Wilson Brothers in the late 1980s before off-loading it to a consortium headed by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor Gideon Gono in 2003.

Gono now has a 100 percent shareholding in The Financial Gazette.

Rusike, who is survived by his wife and several children, is the author of a book entitled “Politics of the Mass Media in Zimbabwe.”

It is understood, the CIO staged a dramatic boardroom coup in 2002 against Octadew consortium that was headed by former Financial Gazette editor-in-chief Francis Mdlongwa.

Octadew comprised Harare-based medical doctors and businessmen, Sylvester Saburi and Solomon Mthethwa in addition to Mdlongwa. The group initially bought the paper from Elias Rusike’s Hamba Investments Holdings.

The agreement of sale was signed on October 1 2002 after both parties had agreed on an evaluation of $200 million by the Financial Gazette’s financial advisors, the MBCA, as the price tag.

Rusike had sold the paper to Octadew on the strict understanding that the new owners would maintain an "editorial policy that is independent of any government, political party, and/or big business".

The editorial charter was incorporated in the agreement of sale.

However, differences later emerged between Octadew and the then CBZ.

The then CBZ chief executive, Gideon Gono, who was said to have secured equity by putting the consortium under financial pressure.

Gono had financial leverage because Octadew had borrowed the $200 million from the CBZ to finance the deal. Gono said in 2002 he did not own the Financial Gazette because he was only a "financial advisor" in the deal.

It was said the CIO had also no difficulty moving into the Mirror group owned by Ibbo Mandaza because it owed CBZ a lot of money after failing to attract advertisers.

Sources said Gono forced the Financial Gazette to create the position of financial director to accommodate his appointee, Blazio Tafireyi, when there was a financial manager, Albert Mushonga, already in place. It is widely thought this was done to ensure the real owners of the paper got to know the financial state of affairs at their new company.

"After Octadew paid Rusike $200 million through Hamba Investments, it became clear something was wrong with the deal," a source said. "All sorts of problems emerged and it inevitably collapsed after a short period. A boardroom coup had been staged."

In a statement issued on November 6 2002, Octadew said the deal had broken down due to "differences centering on the implementation of the newspapers’ broad vision and operation issues".