Renowned education reporter for Citizen TV Makori Ongechi has left the station following months of frustrations from senior editors, Kahawa Tungu can authoritatively report.
According to sources from the station who spoke to this writer on condition of anonymity, Mr Ongechi has been at row with senior editors who were hired a couple of years ago as part of the station’s “dream team”.
Ongechi joined Citizen TV in January 2017 as an intern and was employed seven months later as an education reporter following his stellar performance.
He was employed during the reign of Peter Opondo who was the then managing editor at Citizen TV.
During his stay, Ongechi was exempted from working on Saturdays, since he is a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) believer.
However, following the entry of the “dream team”, Ongechi found himself in the wrong books, as the new editors demanded that he works on Saturdays.
Kahawa Tungu is informed that at one time the issue escalated and the human resource manager was forced to intervene, coming to Ongechi’s defence. This did not augur well with the “dream team”, which felt demeaned by the decision. The editors, according to our sources, started looking for reasons to push out Ongechi.
What looked like a solution would soon become a thorn in the flesh for Ongechi, who found himself sidelined by the editorial management.
“At times Makori would script a good story, but it would be given to the editors’ favourites to voice. Since January he has found himself doing stories yet others take credit for it (because they voice his stories),” intimated our source.
Ongechi is also said to have bought a top-of-the-range car worth millions, something that raised accusations that he was receiving bribes from news sources. Being unable to authenticate the accusations, the editors could not initiate his sacking since they had no proof, according to our source.
It is not yet clear where Ongechi is headed, but reports indicate that he has received several offers from rival stations and could be back on air soon.
Employees who were hired during Farida Karoney’s reign (current lands Cabinet Secretary) are said to be in a panic mode since the dream team is angling to phase them out and hire their own.
This, according to insiders, is what led to the exit of news anchor Hussein Mohammed, who was touted as one of the best political interviewers in the country.
“The fight between the former-led regime that offered Makori a permanent job immediately after he completed his internship at the station and the current crop of managers is the suspected reason why most renowned journalists have quit the station or lost their jobs,” the source added.
Last month, a disgruntled employee blasted the “dream team”, accusing them of exploiting junior employees in the station yet taking all the credit.
In an email that leaked online, the technical staff who keep the company moving earn between Ksh50,000 and Ksh80,000, while news anchors earn as high as Ksh800,000.
Others like Jeff Koinange for instance, are rumoured to be earning well above Ksh2 million.
“Cameramen run all day, get into violent situations but they still can’t even afford a vehicle to drive to work. Producers spend hours on the desk editing content but they can’t afford an Uber (taxi) home when they get overwhelmed with work and work till late in the night,” wrote the employee.
“Technicians will work 24 hours, respond to failures at night, manage multiple sites but they can’t even earn close to six figures?”
The disgruntled employee took issue with senior employees like Linus Kaikai, programmes director Fred Afune, Swale Mdoe, HR director Rose Wanjohi, Joe Ageyo, Francis Gachuri and Yvonne Okwara among other departmental heads.
In 2018, there was a stir at RMS as the company went on a poaching spree of employees from other media houses, of course with the promise of higher salaries better than those of existing employees.
Among those who were poached included Ageyo (from KTN), Kaikai (from NTV), Yvonne Okwara (news anchor, from KTN), Jamila Mohammed, Pamela Asigi, Rashid Abdallah and Nimrod Taabu (all from NTV).
It was rumoured that Hussein Mohammed, the former host for News Night resigned due to salary discrepancies with the new faces.
Another one, Enock Sikolia left silently to join CGTN.