Manyi applies for liquidation

Mzwanele Manyi has applied for liquidation.
Mzwanele Manyi has applied for liquidation.

Mzwanele Manyi blames his newspaper's financial woes on negative publicity surrounding former president Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family.

Manyi, the owner of Afro Voice newspaper, formerly The New Age, which shut its doors last month leaving workers in limbo, is applying for the company's liquidation in court.

He told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that the newspaper's revenue declined drastically after the Free State and North West provincial governments withdrew advertising from it.

Manyi, who acquired the newspaper from the Guptas for R150-million on a vendor-financing deal, has told the court that in a period of four months revenue declined from more than R5-million to R255650.

Manyi is applying for liquidation of the business with six other directors of Afrotone Media Holdings, which also owns Afro View Television (formerly ANN7).

In his affidavit, Manyi said Afrotone Media Holdings is commercially insolvent and there are no prospects of company rescue under prevailing circumstances.

Manyi said the company had accumulated an operational debt as at the end of June 2018 of about R23-million.

This is after the governments of Free State and North West formally cancelled their bulk subscriptions. Adding to its woes was the protracted legal dispute with the SABC over the TNA business briefings conducted with the company.

According to court papers, Westdawn Investments did not renew its annual advertising of R1.7-million a month and Koornfontein Mines sponsorship worth R1-million per month also came to an end. Both companies are owned by the controversial Gupta family.

"Notwithstanding the various efforts to commercially sustain the business of Afro Voice in the face of the substantial decline in government advertising, the indefinite suspension of the TNA business briefings and the ever increasing operational costs, Afro Voice is no longer in a position to financially [do so]," read the court papers.

"Accordingly, the board of directors of Afro Voice have no other alternative but to commence with liquidation proceedings ."

Meanwhile, Afro Voice journalists who were abruptly told not to come to work last month are still fighting to get their severance packages.

An employee told Sowetan yesterday that Manyi had withheld information
regarding the liquidation and that they had only been notified a day before the closing date to make opposing submissions.

"He is toying with our lives because we thought he was playing open cards. We only learnt yesterday that we should notify the attorney on Tuesday [today] of our intention to oppose the liquidation application."

Another journalist said all they want is to get what's left in the company before it is liquidated.

"What is confusing is that Manyi has registered another media company, Afro News. How will he run that company if he failed to run Afro Voice? There should be no problem in paying our severance packages if he is still in a position to register another company," the journalist said.

The company's attorney, Ross Richards, said the court will decide if it is commercially insolvent on Tuesday next week.

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