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OPINION:Sthofeni Ginindza’s Board must account for the financial challenges at Eswatini Observer,crisis cannot be entirely attributed to editor Mbongeni Mbingo.

Friday, 1st March, 2024

It is surprising that,the Eswatini Observer, a media company led by Board Chairman Sthofeni Ginindza,one of the highly experienced corporate gurus with vast knowledge in corporate governance,is financially struggling and an embarrassment to the eSwatini media institution.

Eswatini Observer is a media company owned by Tibiyo TakaNgwane and we can’t blame Tibiyo Managing Director(MD)Absalom Themba Dlamini for directing the company to generate its own revenue and sustain itself because it had the potential to do so.

But the Observer employees are making a mistake by shifting all the blame to Managing editor Mbongeni Mbingo,we must be objective when we address issues,this is a company that is very important and forms part of eSwatini media as an institution and we cannot therefore,allow it to collapse.

Perhaps,my ‘friend’ Sthofeni Ginindza must come out clearly and explain why he is failing to lead the media company and why Tibiyo TakaNgwane must not remove him as the Chairman including the entire Board,we need accountability.

It is the duty of the Board to fire the Management amid allegations of fraud and mismanagement of funds,including failure to remit monies due the Eswatini Revenue Service(ERS) resulting to the media company facing penalties with the revenue institution.

In this regard,such negligence and/or dereliction of duties by the Management with an alleged intention to commit fraud,should have along been a subject of an investigation and disciplinary processes as a demonstration by the Board that it is committed in finding solutions to the challenges within the Observer.

The mere fact that,the Management is still in office with no disciplinary action means,the Sthofeni Ginindza Board is failing in its duties and alternatively,the Board must be fired.

Ginindza managed to take action against Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo, the then Eswatini Observer Managing Director who was allegedly colluding with lawyer Sibusiso Shongwe to defraud the media and he must do the same,leadership requires decisive action.

As mentioned,I am not convinced that all the challenges facing the Eswatini Observer were triggered by Mbongeni Mbingo,until we receive information suggesting that,indeed Mbingo is defrauding the media company,we will not continue to turn a blind eye, for now it’s allegations that must be substantiated before a disciplinary hearing or a court of law.

Mbingo is the editor and as mentioned,it is the duty of the Board to develop policies restricting employees from the editorial department to handle or accept monies on behalf of the company from advertisers.

Furthermore, it is the duty of the Board through its Management to monitor the content and question advertorial or promotional articles to ascertain if editor Mbongeni Mbingo and other senior Managers were not paid through the back-door by these companies.

This publication previously exposed that, Mbingo was allegedly accepting monies from certain companies for advertising and corporate reputation management.

One of the senior Eswatini MTN Managers once told me that Mbingo approached them saying,he was running a Public Relations(PR) company that is responsible for managing the reputation for companies and on a balance of probabilities,there’s clear evidence even based on his lifestyle that he might be receiving monies from companies.

Conflict of interest is clear corruption and if Mbingo is indeed, approaching corporate companies offering them protection in terms of reputation management, this means, the newspaper will always struggle in terms of revenue and quality stories.

But all these allegations should have long been investigated if the Observer Board was serious about the protection of the media company,for these reasons Board Chairman Sthofeni Ginindza must shoulder the blame for failing to introduce policies that seeks to detect and prevent fraud.

We cannot entirely blame Mbongeni Mbingo for the challenges faced by the Observer, it is the duty of  the owners to discipline him and in this regard,the Board as the representative of the Shareholders must act and/or account.

But apart from the allegations against Mbingo that must be obviously be substantiated,I am not convinced that the newspapers is struggling only because of certain Managers,Board Chairman Sthofeni Ginindza must tell us what is preventing him from leading the media company despite his corporate governance experience having served at the Eswatini Electricity Company(EEC),Revenue Service and other Boards.

Once we are fully informed with regards to the challenges faced by the Board,then we will be able to know exactly where to focus in dealing with the challenges within the Observer.

But for now, Board Chairman Sthofeni Ginindza must shoulder the blame,at least,until we are convinced otherwise.

Ginindza is capable of transforming the Eswatini Observer and the Shareholders must put pressure on him, this dereliction of duties on his part,is destroying one of the media companies that is, and remain, critical in the institution of the Fourth Estate.

OPINION:Sthofeni Ginindza’s Board must account for the financial challenges at Eswatini Observer,crisis cannot be entirely attributed to editor Mbongeni Mbingo.
Eswatini Observer Board Chairman Sthofeni Ginindza.