Johannesburg - The negative publicity of being associated with the controversial Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma is what sounded the death knell for the daily newspaper AfroVoice. This is the submission of Mzwanele Manyi, the owner of the newspaper, formerly known as The New Age, in an urgent application for liquidation on Monday.
Manyi and five other directors of his company have asked the North Gauteng High Court to urgently place their subsidiary TNA Media, publisher of AfroVoice, under liquidation, saying it can no longer be rescued. In his sworn affidavit, Manyi said AfroVoice was commercially insolvent and “there are no prospects for the rescue of the company under the prevailing circumstances”.
“As a result of the (company’s) dire financial position, it currently conducts business in insolvent circumstances, and consequently the directors have a legal duty to cease all operations and further to act in the best interest of all stakeholders, including the body of creditors, its employees and shareholders,” he said. AfroVoice's operational debt climbed to R23.2million at the end of last month, forcing directors to suddenly close it down. Staff members, including journalists, were given no prior notice.
Between February and June this year, the paper's revenue declined from over R5.1m “to a mere R255650”, Manyi revealed. The dramatic decline was caused by sudden withdrawals of subscriptions, advertisement and indefinite suspension of TNA business briefings by the SABC.
During this period, the North West and Free State provincial governments also cancelled their bulk subscriptions, while the troubled Gupta-owned Westdawn Investments did not renew advertising that brought in about R1.7m a month. Koornfontein mine, also Gupta-owned and under business rescue, pulled out of a sponsorship deal that made TNA about a million rand a month.