Johannesburg - Afrotone media boss Mzwanele Manyi has announced three new shareholders for the company he took off the Guptas' hands last year.
During a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Manyi told reporters that the business was a going concern, and that he had appointed two new editors for the business' print and broadcast media outlets to assure South Africans of the newsrooms' editorial independence.
The Guptas sold TV station ANN7 and newspaper The New Age to Manyi via a vendor financing arrangement in 2017. At the time, the Guptas' Oakbay Holdings said it would relinquish its ownership of the assets under Afrotone.
Manyi then changed ANN7's name to Afro Worldview and rebranded the newspaper as Afro Voice. This was in line with a bid to secure the spot of a black-owned news channel on DStv, which MultiChoice will announce by the end of July. ANN7's previous contract to broadcast on DStv ends in August and will not be renewed.
However, when asked whether Afro Worldview planned to make shares available to the public, Manyi said its leadership wanted to grow the value of the estate first before considering the public issuing of shares.
Under the ownership of the Guptas, these businesses – then known as ANN7 and The New Age newspaper – struggled to shake the perception that they existed to produce news which showed the once politically connected family in a positive light.
Shareholders with 'fresh ideas'
Manyi, speaking from the offices of Afro Worldview in Midrand, announced Unathi Mguye, Sifiso Mthethwa and Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela as the new shareholders of the business. He said the company was looking for young shareholders with fresh ideas to take the business forward.
Manyi said Unathi Mguye was experienced in working for both the public and private sector. He said she founded and headed her own consulting firm and started her own investment arm aimed at women's empowerment.
Manyi told reporters that Sfiso Mthethwa was an admitted attorney of the court and had experience working at Primedia.
Manyi said Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, also the granddaughter of former president Nelson Mandela and struggle icon Winnie Mandela, had an extensive background in public relations and in mainstream media.
Manyi said the business' new recruits were of the highest quality and that talent continued to find its way to Afro Voice. "While we still have a long way to go, we will overcome challenges [as a] BBBEE Level one company that is fully black-owned," he said.
"We have a staff of nearly 500 employees, who are mostly young women, and are the only channel with as many young woman anchors ... Rebranding was more than just rebranding. It was about sending a message to stakeholders that it is now business unusual," said Manyi.
Manyi said the company was willing to come on board with the media community in South Africa. He said he met with the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and was excited about being brought into the fold with them.
Manyi said the company’s two new editors, Mpho Sithole and Ricky Naidoo, were experienced in leading newsrooms and defending press freedom. He said there would be no editorial interference.
Afro Worldview was a going concern, he added, which posed no risks to MultiChoice.
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