Shock and uncertainty are reported to have been the reaction for most AfroVoice staff when chairperson and owner Mzwanele Manyi called a meeting announcing the paper’s closure.
Staff were told they would be paid their July salary, although they were ordered not to report with immediate effect.
The reporters and editors were finalising Friday’s paper when Manyi called the unexpected meeting at around 3.35pm.
He told staff the company had been operating at a loss in the 10 months Manyi was in charge of the paper.
According to The Star, AfroVoice staff were told not to return on Friday and Sunday.
A reporter for AfroVoice based in Cape Town said he was unaware of developments until he received a text on Friday about the closure.
Manyi allegedly told staff the business would be shut down until the management of Afrotone Media Holdings could come up with a solution to turn around their financial losses.
The meeting took place at about 4.50pm, when Manyi arrived to tell staff the disappointing news.
According to the chairperson, the newspaper was booking no advertising and newspapers in general have been struggling.
“For now the board decided to stop publication of the newspaper while it seeks other solutions. After the meeting we asked him when are we stopping and he said today [Thursday] was the last edition and Sunday we must not come to work, but we will be paid at the end of July,” one employee revealed.
Staff were reportedly paid on June 22, although details of any severance pay are still unclear.
The meeting ended with several people shaking hands, concerned and disappointed at the short notice.
Some employees feel they could have been given more notice time before the announcement. They unsurprisingly feel the future doesn’t look good for them post July, as the media industry is under financial pressure throughout South Africa and has not been growing employment.
BREAKING: AfroVoice newspaper is closing down! Staff members were told in a meeting less than 30 minutes ago not to come to work in July because the paper is closing! Staff will get paid for July even though they will not be working.
— A Dog That Bites (@SkepeMatsebane) June 28, 2018
The closure comes 10 months after Manyi acquired the former New Age newspaper from the Guptas through a vendor-financed deal, which is understood to mean that the Guptas themselves loaned Manyi the money to buy their newspaper and 24-hour news channel, ANN7, from them.
The paper’s first edition appeared on 6 December 2010 and appeared daily, Monday to Friday.