Mediamax Networks Limited, which own television station K24 and the vernacular Kameme FM Station, is set to send home 100 employees effectively today, 30th October 2019, after releasing a notice announcing that it would be sending home employees in a month on 30th September 2019.
Mediamax is said to be co-owned by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President Dr. William Ruto but not even that has saved the media house from firing employees at rocking economic times.
The layoffs will rank as one the bloodiest in Kenya’s recent corporate history, and the biggest in media, rivaling Standard Group’s September 2017 sacking of just over 100.
At K24, 10 editors are being sent home as the company moves to cut costs and streamline operations.
Virtually all K24 editors have been fired. “K24 has been swept clean,” said an editor at Mediamax. “I am not even sure about myself. The situation is tense.”
Those who have reportedly been given letters include K24 managing editor Fred Njiiri, Frankline Wambugu, the managing editor for Kiswahili and chief anchor; English Managing Editor Boniface Mutakha, and Deputy Managing Editor Ali Mtenzi.
Others shown the door include K24 business editor Tony Timase and Sports Editor Torome Tirike
The target at K24 appears to be senior editors with fat salaries, a source at Mediamax Networks said, an indication of just how far the company is willing to go to trim its payroll. Some of the editors had already been sent on compulsory leave.
At Kameme TV, the company has scrapped the news gathering function, focusing more on entertainment and leaving tens of journalists and other support workers without jobs.
The sacking process kicked off after the 10am staff meeting today where Mediamax acting CEO Ken Ngaruiya revealed the bad news that 160 employees would be affected. He said those being laid off would be called individually by the human resources team.
The lay-off has turned the spotlight on Uhuru Kenyatta family and Deputy President Dr William Ruto, who co-own the company and have been championing the drive to create more jobs in the Kenyan economy.
Previously, the company has enticed journalists with good packages only to fire them later. Those who have borne this brunt include former KTN Kiswahili presenter Anne Ngugi, who was sacked while pregnant. Others include a group of journalists – Janet Chapia, Dancun Khaemba, Chris Thairu, Anders Ihachi and Geoffrey Wachira – who left Citizen but were to be fired two years later.
The company has also barred its journalists from joining the Kenya Union of Journalists, which exposes them to the whims of management. KUJ Secretary-General Rec Oduor said they are still engaging the media house on the matter.