Mediamax Network Ltd, the media house owned by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, has found itself at the receiving end of what looks like an emerging revolt ignited by the recent reduction of salaries in response to the COVID-19 economic disruption.
Peter Opondo, the senior-most editor at Mediamax overseeing the editorial functions of print, broadcast, and digital divisions, is understood to have resigned due to frustration related to recent management decisions.
The company announced a pay cut of up to 50% for its top earners as a strategic move to keep expenses low during the Covid-19 economic slowdown period.
It is understood that two other senior employees have resigned in solidarity with Opondo, who has been editor in chief since April 2018. According to internal conversations by a section of employees working for K24 TV more resignations are expected to follow.
“We are talking about three senior bosses who have resigned already,” said one. They felt the coercing as too much to bear. Maybe others will follow.”
Others could include big names at Mediamax including print editor-in-chief Eric Obino, TV presenters Betty Kyalo and Anne Kiguta as well as radio presenter Felix Odiwuor, among others. Betty Kyalo is among a group of employees who signed and filed a petition to oppose the pay cut.
Slow income growth
In the conversation, participants appear to point to the beginning of the end for Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya, who has been in the spotlight over not only the highest pay cut in the media industry but also slow growth in revenues at Mediamax. “When supporting pillars start falling, the future of the kingpost and the house can’t be stable.”
Other media houses such as Nation Media Group, Standard Group, Royal Media Services and Radio Africa Group has announced salary cuts of up to 30%.
Another contributor in the group quipped: “They (those who resigned) have decided to do one better. Instead of the 50%, they are taking 100%pay cut.”
The development also comes amid reports of salary delays. Last month salaries were delayed until 17th while the company is yet to pay May salaries. Ngaruiya, in a recent memo, issued an ultimatum to staff to sign pay-cut letters or face HR sanctions.
This is the second time Peter Opondo is quitting the Media House. Opondo served in a similar capacity at Mediamax from 2013 to 2015 before leaving after serving for two years to join Royal Media Services as editorial consultant.
He returned to Mediamax in April 2018 and has quite, oddly enough, after serving two years again. Opondo has shaken up the media house, cleaning the newspaper section of cartels that used to siphon revenues through fake contributions. He recently oversaw a lay off in which over 160 employees were fired.