Malawi newspaper giant BP&P face deep job cuts

It does not rain but it pours for the country’s media giant Blantyre Print & Packaging (BP&P) Times. Latest information in our possession reveal that the company’s management has approved cutting the number of staff it employs.

The company inside sources  told Nyasa Times that management has undertaken “a detailed review of its organisational structure” and that massive retrenchment will be effected in the month of August as part of  a strategy to “maximise revenue opportunities.”

The retrenchment follows another one some few months ago that saw the company parting ways with over 45 of its employees.

According to leaked information Nyasa Times sourced,  BP&P  which boasts of chain of companies including five titles namely; The Daily Times, Malawi News, Business Times, The Sunday Times, Weekend Times and quarterly magazine Times Life Style, has not recovered from the severe financial meltdown it has been going through the past five years.

Chikadya: Job cuts looming

The company’s sluggishness, which hugely stems from  questionable management under Leonard Chikadya and his cousin Dr. Tikhala Chibwana, prompted an impromptu managerial meeting in May where they discussed potential exit strategies that would not see more employees losing their jobs.

Closure of non-profitable papers

Among the key resolutions that were proposed to Chikadya was the immediate closure of non-profitable publications like Business Times and Life Style magazine.

The proposal was presented to Chikadya by former head of the company’s courier section Stella Hara on behalf of entire management.

It is reported that Hara after presenting the management’s resolutions lost her job subsequently.

“At management meeting we agreed to propose to Chikadya that we shut down some of the papers that are not doing well on the market so that we save on production costs then we could use the money to secure jobs of employees that are earmarked for off loading.

“It seems this proposal did not go down well with the Chief Executive Officer (Chikadya) because soon after that Stella Hara was fired. The company has reached critical levels right now because we owe institutions like banks and MRA huge sums of millions of money. To make matters even worse is the recent scandal where the company lost K60 million to the Italian middleman, so all is not well at the company,” confided a well placed source who is head of department for one of the company’s subsidiaries.

Staff living in fear

Meanwhile, another source at one of the papers has recounted of how members of staff at the company fear for their jobs since news of another retrenchment started making rounds last month.

After the August retrenchment last year, our source further said reporters are forced to work under extreme pressure due to shortage of staff as the company only has 40 newsroom staff responsible for six publications.

“The place is like hell now we are working like slaves due to shortage of staff in the newsroom and at the same time we are all living in fear because nobody knows if they will survive the chop or not so you can’t really concentrate under such circumstances,” recounted the source.

He added: “In all the financial mess we have been through I tell you it’s due to gross mismanagement. I can challenge you that at Nation Newspaper they suffered heavily under Mutharika regime but at no point in time did they fire or retrench staff, for your information conditions of service at Nation are better off than us.”

While rival company NPL, publishers of The Nation, Weekend Nation and Nation on Sunday, was being bullied by the former regime, BP&P Times enjoyed a good camaraderie with the government and made a fortune through advertisements and printing orders.

The BP&P management could not speak to Nyasa Times when contacted for comment.

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