All is not well at the largest and most successful media house in East and Central Africa. And what is even more worrying is that the current crisis should come in an election year and affect a department at the impressive media house which Kenyans are heavily relying on and looking up to "to deliver the goods."
The crux of the problem is tension between the senior management that heads the editorial department and members of the editorial department. This tension seems to have been triggered off by a "clean up" and downsizing effort launched by the new CEO Linus Gitahi. Most in the editorial department strongly feel that the "trimming exercise" is being done unfairly and that the measuring rod is something else other than performance. Nothing new about that except that the staff has anonymously written an open letter to CEO Linus Gitahi (which has been posted on the net-see details at the end of this article) threatening to expose what they see as "the rot within the Nation Media group." In fact what their intentions are, is to expose, embarrass and adversely affect the media house by exposing what they claim is a sex scandal involving the most senior executives in the editorial department, if their demands are not met. This letter has been widely circulated amongst the alternative press in Nairobi.
Their demand is that the current clean up targeting unproductive and incompetent staff be carried out in a transparent and fair manner. They have also demanded that the two senior executives whom they blame for the problems should resign by the end of February or "they will be smoked out." The cheeky editorial staff have even threatened to write to the largest single NMG shareholder and founder of the Nation group, the Aga Khan himself and inform him of the alleged sexual escapades of the two senior editors that has seen them reward incompetent female staff with promotions. They have also said they will present the spouses of the culprits with evidence of the same as well as publicizing everything to the public. The letter adds that "other strategies remain our secret."
The letter names the two senior executives as Editorial director Wangethi Mwangi and group managing editor, Joseph Odindo. Also named is group Human Resources director Mrs Hellen Mbugua.
Sex scandals are really nothing new at the media house and indeed many other large companies in Kenya today. Reports are rampant of the defilement of people's wives and attractive women exchanging sexual favors for promotion. Not to mention married men also seducing their powerful women bosses so as to get ahead. At other times members of staff have been known to jump into bed with each other, even on their employer's time. At one time a major Aids scare hit the Nation media group when a senior member of the editorial department passed on as a result of complications caused by HIV-Aids. There was real fear because the staffer had several lovers who had in turn also had encounters with others in an almost endless chain of links that many felt would have endangered the lives of a large section of the staff. This happened in the late 1990s.
Then there was a sexual harassment suit filed against editorial director Wangethi Mwangi by a female member of staff. This writer has not been able to establish exactly what became of it.
However the latest crisis seems to be the "mother of all sex scandals" at the media house, mainly because there is the real possibility of exposure to the public who will be shocked to learn that the respected media house may after all be better described as a whore house, at least in some sections and departments.
Urgent personal message to you from Kumekucha.
This letter must have been posted on the web by a member of staff at Nation Media house. Read the full unedited version for yourself.
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