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Why Did President Uhuru Drive Himself into Mediamax Offices on Saturday Evening?

A file photo of President huru Kenyatta driving himself around the city. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Mediamax staff who have been embroiled in a court fight with the management are now hopeful after President Uhuru Kenyatta personally drove himself into Mediamax offices located along Kijabe street and held a meeting with top management.

According to staff who were caught off-guard on Saturday evening when President Uhuru arrived in his signature Mercedes G-Wagon driving himself and escorted by 3 other Toyota Landcruisers, the Head of State and key shareholder in the Mediamax group looked concerned.

Sources close to State House and Mediamax have revealed that President Uhuru personally felt touched when key employees went to court to fight the move by senior management to slash salaries of staff.

One staff member who witnessed this told us,

I witnessed it. At 6:33 pm. I met him on the stairs with two other guys, I think security guards. Initially, he had used the basement to enter the building and when he was leaving the building, he used the stairs. And left with his Mercedes G Wagon and two chase cars.

The President hoped that the situation would have been handled differently as Mediamax’s management actions portrayed the president wrongly.

The Employment and Labour Relations court issued orders temporarily stopping Mediamax Network Limited from forcing or coercing employees to take up to 50 per cent pay cuts.

The holding company of K24 and Kameme TV stations, People Daily, Milele FM and several vernacular radio stations had declared intention to subject its employees to 20 to 50 per cent salary cuts citing adverse effects of novel Coronavirus on its business.

The orders issued on Friday by Justice Bryam Ongaya restrict the Media House from subjecting the employees to pay cuts unless the management proves that they are unable to pay salaries.

Move to court follows that of Standard Group employees who went to court and got similar orders against the Moi family-owned company.

However, the Mombasa road-based media group started to intimidate employees by sending personalised letters and veiled threats at night demanding that they sign letters showing that they voluntarily allowed the pay cut.

Many employees felt threatened while few others hid behind the Kenya Union of Journalists and indicated that they’d not be part of the group who sign and take the cuts as they have an ongoing court case against the company.

Media companies have struggled to raise advertisement revenue as companies suspend non-critical expenditures until normalcy returns.

Efforts of President Uhuru Kenyatta to personally intervene in a situation where Mediamax employees have increasingly grown distrusting of the top management is a big reassurance. Though many employees are not aware of what was discussed, they hoped that President Uhuru came to vouch for them.

Well placed sources at Mediamax have now revealed that President Uhuru Kenyatta only stayed at the management and had a brief meeting with the top management of the company before driving off again. President Uhuru wanted to issue instructions to the management directly and had the meeting short to ensure that his presence didn’t leak out.

UPDATE

President Uhuru Kenyatta reportedly joined the tail end of a board meeting which was ongoing. The president sought briefs from the directors over Covid-19, financial state of the company and the controversial pay cut.

A proposal was put to have those earning below 100k to receive 10 per cent pay cut, 100-200k 15 per cent, Ksh200,000 – 500,000 20 per cent while those earning above Ksh 500,000 would receive a 30 per cent cut.

An agreement was reached to have the company lawyer have a meeting with the staff representatives and lawyer for an agreement to be officially inked. A new Chief Executive Officer will take over at Mediamax soon.

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Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (www.fb.com/RobertAlai).

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