A new daily publication named “La gazette de la Grande Ile” (The Great Island Gazette) will be available to the public on March 8, 2003. At the helm will figure personalities well known to the other daily publications of the Malagasy capital city. These individuals have decided to pool their know-how, and their resources in an effort to lay the foundation for a “truly independent media”. For a time, however, “La gazette” will have a hard time shaking off the rather negative opinion which the ruling party has formed about her. Given the identity of its founders, this new publication is known to be closely affiliated with Mr. Pierrot Rajaonarivelo, National Secretary to AREMA, former dictator Didier Ratsiraka?s party.
To uncover the origin of the new publication, the political authorities apparently did not hesitate to call on the Malagasy secret service, the DGIDIE. Reportedly, this agency had to subpoena some of the publication?s founders in order to obtain more information.
The publication?s management team, despite the explanations which were furnished, has raised highbrows, and has given the administration something to think about. There is no denying that, prior to President Ravalomanana?s ascent to power, the publication?s director, Mr. Rolland Rasoamaharo, was one of the closest advisors of Mr. Pierrot Rajaonarivelo, then deputy prime minister. Mr. Franck Raharison, the executive editor, and Mr. James Ramarosaona, the editorial secretary general – currently the president of Correspondents Guild – are both former reporters of Madagascar Tribune, a daily publication which reputedly also has close ties with the former deputy prime minister. Mr. Salomon Ravelontsalama, the chief financial officer, and Mr. Patrick Andrianjafy, the managing editor, both reporters formerly associated with the Midi Madagascar Publication Group, made a name for themselves through their close association with AREMA?s national secretary, Mr. Pierrot Rajaonarivelo.
The primary founders of the publication claim, “Mr. Pierrot Rajaonarivelo has not contributed a red cent toward the start-up of the publication.” The executive editor also pointed out that funding for the start-up of the publication came from the founders themselves, and from a financial partner, namely SBM, a Mauritian bank which has been established in Madagascar for the past few years.
Local print shops, a few of which already print other dailies, have initially decided not to get involved with the printing of “La gazette”. Eventually, one of them, the owner of the News Print, has agreed to take on the task until “La Gazette” manages to acquire its own printing press. This decision, despite all of the unexpected roadblocks, will allow the daily publication to roll out its first issue on March 8, 2003.
Some counterparts, the ultimate political, and ideological convictions of “La Gazette” not withstanding, are happy to witness the birth of a new publication. One way or another, this will further stimulate competition, and diversity, an undeniable sign that social, and economic life is, indeed, alive and well. Thus, as of March 8, five Malagasy daily publications will be edited and published from Akorondrano, one of the capital city?s industrial zone.
Additionally, two other publications are in the making. One will be published entirely in Malagasy. It belongs to the editor of Express de Madagascar, a bilingual daily publication (Malagasy, and French). The second one would be put together by individuals with close ties to President Ravalomanana who, under the current circumstances, feels the need for a new publication which will be sure to carry his political views. This creates somewhat of a redundancy because two other publications of the Midi Group are already entirely dedicated to his agenda.
Translated by J. F. Razanamiadana