It has been said many times before that Times Group is managed by thieves and the corrupt who are happy to keep reporters languish in poor salaries while the managers enrich themselves. However, one manager has not been lucky to continue with his stealing.
As if they are clean themselves, management at the self-glorified media house has forced Times TV manager Sungani Ntande to resign for theft of company property, corruption and use of abusive language towards reporters.
Sungani has been Managing Director Leonard Chikadya’s blue-eyed boy. He back-stabbed his way to the top at the expense of Dr Tikhala Chibwana who was General Manager and Brian Ligomeka who was Managing Editor.
In his time, Sungani perfected the company’s culture of stealing company property and money while keeping reporters underpaid and relying on handouts from news sources for daily survival.
As a technical person for Times TV, Sungani was inflating prices on requisitions for TV equipment and consultant technicians, he was selling and hiring out some equipment such as cameras and TV towers to other television stations and was obtaining large sums of money from the company under the pretext of paying for goods and services that were never delivered.
Times managers have copied this style from the Joyce Banda Cashgate in which huge payments were being made without any goods delivered. Corruption is feared to be very bad in the management ranks of the media group.
Even Leonard Chikadya the Managing Director is said to have traveled to Italy to procure a dead printing machine instead of sending a technical team there because he wanted to secure a cut. The Italian job and the procurement of the dead printing machine has never been probed by the Times Group Board.
Times is known for criticising corruption to the point of insulting Malawians as “a nation of thieves” according to one George Damaseke Kasakula’s columns.
Kasakula himself is known to be a corrupt journalist who recently received money from Simbi Phiri to run an advertorial on the front page of his newspaper. It was also Kasakula’s corruption and extorting money from an Asian that forced Gregory Gondwe to resign two years ago.
From nepotism, corruption, theft, underpaying to oppressing its workers, Times has done everything it accuses everyone of in society.
As a manager, Sungani Ntande trivialised the contributions of reporters and he treated all his juniors as if they are nothing while Chikadaya and Kasakula watched. Throughout, he did not have friends in the newsroom except Kasakula.
In one instance, Mphatso Chauluka, a reporter, got fed up with his lack of corporate manners, walked into his office and beat him up a few months ago. Sungani sustained injuries on his face and could not report for duties for a week.
Sungani has been fired at a time he drew up a list of half of TV staff he recommended for retrenchment as a cost cutting measure on the advice of the company.
Chikadya has been forced to fire his loyal manager when Times Group company is collapsing. This drama comes after the printing section staged a strike last week for poor pay and conditions of service. In the last three months, more than 15 reporters have resigned from Times due to poor working conditions. Some of them are as follows:
Deogratias Mmana – Head of Lilongwe Bureau and of Investigations Desk
Ntchindi Meki – Senior Investigations Reporter
Limbikani Kamlongera – Head of News and Current Affairs
Charles Mpaka – Investigations Reporter and Assistant Editor for Malawi News
Whytone Kapasule – Reporter
Masuzgo Msiska (Mr 265) – Radio and TV presenter
Stanley Mphaya – Radio and TV presenter
Meanwhile, the company is failing to replace these departures as reporters and editors in other places are rejecting job offers by Times due to its poor salaries, poor treatment of staff and fear of retrenchment.