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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

News anchor Ayanda Nyathi jumps ship as former employers deny internal row involving CEO

Newzroom Afrika has been experiencing changes in the last few months, with most of its anchors abruptly leaving the channel.

Former Newzroom Afrika anchor Ayanda Nyathi started at his new home at the SABC after leaving the 405 news channel.

This as his former employers distanced themselves from an alleged internal row involving the channel CEO, Thabile Ngwato.

Viewers and former colleagues celebrated Nyathi’s first day back on the TV screens on Monday morning after leaving Newzroom Afrika in February.

Nyathi, who co-anchored the news channel’s AM Report with Michelle Craig, now hosts the SABC’s The Agenda.

No ‘heated argument’

In a response to an article by the City Press which is no longer available, Newzroom Afrika denied allegations of a heated argument between the channel’s former managing editor Zain Semaar and channel co-owner Ngwato.

“Newzroom Afrika co-founder was not present on the day former managing editor Zain Semaar was informed that his contract would not be renewed, let alone involved in a heated dispute with him,” read the statement released last Thursday.

“The CEO does not get involved in contractual discussions with employees and Mr Semaar did not have that kind of access to her. Mr Semaar was not fired, he simply did not have his contract renewed as his services were no longer required.”

The publication had quoted an unidentified source in its article and this has prompted the channel to go the legal route.  

“Our initial no-response to the allegations from City Press were based on the fact that Newzroom Afrika does not comment on issues concerning its relationship with individual employees,” averred the statement.

“From here on, Newzroom Afrika will be dealing with this matter legally.”

ALSO READ: Newzroom Afrika attracts heavies in new staff line-up

Changes at Newzroom Afrika

Newzroom Afrika celebrates its fifth anniversary on air in May and the channel announced a line-up of recognised anchors after experiencing an exodus of on-air talent in the past few months.

“We are… embarking on a much-needed refresh to the line-up to inject new talent and energy while drawing on the solid experience in our ranks to ensure the highest standards of accuracy and integrity in our reporting,” said Ngwato in a statement in early February.

There was much fan-fair when the station was launched, owing to its ownership being fully black. Ngwato, a former news anchor herself, is one half of the company which she owns together with television production entrepreneur Thokozani Nkosi.

ALSO READ: News anchor Cathy Mohlahlana announces her departure from Newzroom Afrika

But in the last few months there have been allegations of editorial interference from the company’s big shots, which has allegedly forced a few anchors to move away from the news channel.

The most recent talent to bid farewell to the channel is award-winning journo Zikhona Tshona and Thembekile Mrototo. The latter’s farewell message was quite cold.

“Leaving… today is my last day at Newzroom 405. I have resigned from the channel and my last show will be at 6pm tonight,” he wrote on his social media account.

Through all these changes, the news station, however, roped in influencers to congratulate it for turning five years old.

In November last year, news anchor Cathy Mohlahlana unexpectedly announced her departure from the channel, after her return from maternity leave. Nothing strange here, except her statement only thanked viewers, not once mentioning her former employers.

“I would not be who I am without your support as viewers. You have given me more than I could ever ask for. Thank you,” read Mohlahlana’s short statement.

Her exit followed that of Parliament reporter, Athi Mtongana.

NOW READ: ‘No,I am not floor-crossing’ – Athi Mtongana mum on next move after leaving Newzroom Afrika

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