Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The CCMA orders ANN7 to pay its fired news presenter Asanda Magaqa R500 000 over unfair dismissal and to reinstate her immediately.

The CCMA has ordered the Infinity Media run TV news channel ANN7 (DStv 405) to pay its fired news presenter Asanda Magaqa R500 000 due to unfair dismissal and to immediately reinstate her.

Asanda Magaqa presented shows like Between the Lines and the companion show I am South African in the run-up to the first South African of the Year Awards but then infamously didn't host it.

Tensions started between Asanda Magaqa and ANN7 management when she was supposed to host The South African of the Year Awards but was dumped shortly before it. She was fired in November 2014 and Between the Lines was abruptly stopped. ANN7 said Between the Lines would return later as a retooled show. It never did.

ANN7 didn't respond to a media enquiry made last week regarding the order from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Asanda Magaqa's case and the finding over ANN7's unfair dismissal.

"The dismissal of the applicant was both procedurally and substantially unfair," says the CCMA which ordered Infinity Media to pay Asanda Magaqa R500 000, or 10 months' salary and to immediately reinstate her.

"ANN7 is ordered to retrospectively reinstate the applicant with no loss of benefits with effect from the date of her dismissal - 24 November 2014. The respondent is further ordered to pay the applicant an amount of R500 000 which is equivalent to ten months' salary as back pay. This order must be complied with no later that 19 October 2015," ordered the CCMA.

It's not clear whether Asanda Magaqa, who is a member of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), would actually return to ANN7.

In a scathing farewell letter last year Asanda Magaqa wrote about ANN7's "blatant persecution of employees" and alleged "desperation" to "each new week, find a new charge to bring against me yet they could not feign a semblance of focus and order and conclude the disciplinary inquiry".

"I knew the inquiry was a farce, nothing more than a kangaroo court comprising a lynch mob as some of you will soon learn when you face your own inquiries."

After last week's CCMA order Asanda Magaqa tweeted a "thank you my friends. Your messages gave me strength" and that "your prayers kept me going".

"Media workers are workers too," says Cosatu in a statement, welcoming the CCMA ruling for Asanda Magaqa to be reinstated at ANN7.

Since before ANN7 launched and after it's embarrassing start in August 2013 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, the Gupta owned TV news channel has constantly remained more in the news for the eye-popping and tumultuous personnel and human resources drama happening behind the scenes at its Midrand based headquarters than for anything else.

In August an ANN7 journalist physically attacked and assaulted the channel's own news editor Abhinav Sahay in the ANN7 Midrand newsroom.

Now Gladys Sithole has become the latest ANN7 defection with the news anchor who left the channel where she was the fill-in anchor of ANN7 Prime and anchored Africa Tonight. Gladys Sithole was with ANN7 since launch and left last week to become the head of news at Hot 91.9fm. There was no announcement from ANN7 nor a media advisory about her replacement.

Gladys Sithole's exit is the latest in the exodus of on-air talent from ANN7 over the past two years including Hajra Omarjee who represented Asanda Magaqa in her disciplinary hearing, chief anchor Chantal Rutter Dros, Tyron Cosway and the hyped hire of Gerry Rantseli-Elsdon who lasted only a few months.

Executive Dave McGregor quit last year, as did assignments editor Clinton Nagoor. The former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram who fled the news station promised to write a tell-all book Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV, but the book plan was killed.

In October 2013 the department of home affairs ordered four foreigners helping ANN7 to leave who had overstayed their visitor visa permit conditions.