News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
3 minute read
25 Aug 2017
10:28 am

Manyi: Blacks can’t be paid less than Indians at former Gupta companies

Gosebo Mathope

The new owner of The New Age and ANN7 says he's investigating a litany of complaints at both companies.

Jimmy Manyi speaks to a reporter from The Citizen at the ANN7 Offices in Midrand on 25 August 2017. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

The sole director of Lodidox, the company that this week acquired The New Age and ANN7 for a reported R450 million, Mzwanele Manyi, says that if it is true that black African and Indian employees at the two media assets are paid different salaries for doing the same job, it would be a huge “embarrassment”.

He acknowledged that he had been confronted with this problem, and he was investigating it.

According to The Sowetan, Manyi’s introductory meeting with employees at both companies left him with egg on his face when employees confronted him with a litany of grievances.

The publication reports his baptism of fire commenced with laughter when Manyi told the employees his company had purchased their assets, because an outspoken female staff member reportedly told him they knew the transaction was purely a farce.

Manyi has, however, denied his “ownership” is nothing more than a Gupta front.

Lodidox acquired the two media assets, valued at just over R52 million by market analysts, through a vendor finance deal – in effect meaning the Gupta family loaned him money so they could offload the companies to him.

“He expressed disappointment and tried to compose himself … Manyi said the media will now throw things at him,” said an employee who added that, when asked what experience he had in running a media company the former spin doctor said had “worked at the Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS) for many years”.

This week a staff meeting addressed by Manyi, the former DG of both the department of labour and GCIS, was reportedly also attended by New Age editor Ricky Naidoo and former group editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams.

READ MORE: Manyi offers to ‘rehabilitate’ Justice Malala and double his salary

Speaking to The Citizen this morning, Manyi expressed optimism that he would bring much-needed change to the companies by addressing the labour relations complaints the staff members had raised.

“We had a very good meeting with staff and they raised a whole lot of issues; they were relieved that they will not be losing their jobs,” Manyi said.

“Employees raised labour relations type of issues … there will be a process to resolve them. A happy working environment is good for the company. Once the employee is happy, the company will perform,” he explained.

Manyi said the reason the media carried reports about the meeting was because “there could one or two [employees] who are unhappy, which is why they are leaking information”.

“In a group of hundreds of people I employ it is not realistic to expect happiness. ”

He said the motives of those who granted media interviews were suspect and a sign these individuals were “not of good character”.

The staunch Jacob Zuma supporter also said he did not “pick up” an impression that the majority of his staff members were unhappy.

“You will find there are those who don’t display loyalty, and if this continues there would be problems. On the whole, there is a lot of excitement. It is my duty and responsibility to make those eyes sparkle,” he reiterated.

Manyi admitted he was aware of salary disparities between the different races at the two companies and he has since “commissioned an HR person to do a [benchmarking] exercise to find the market level and check whether what they are paid is in line with what is paid”.

“It will be a serious embarrassment if I were to find out that there is flouting of labour regulations as former DG of labour. There is a commitment to deal with it. When you walk around you see a lot of Africans in proportions; indeed there are a lot of Indians.

“I am not equipped to know how an Indian from India is paid substantially more than black employees. The reason why there are Indian expats in the company is because Times of India owns a 7% equity stake in The New Age,” he added.


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