Mzwanele Manyi, Zamaswati Mandela, Unathi Mguye and Sifiso Mthetwa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Mzwanele Manyi, Zamaswati Mandela, Unathi Mguye and Sifiso Mthetwa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Mzwanele Manyi says he is "quietly confident" that the rebranded ANN7 news channel — which Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter now has an interest in — has what it takes to keep its spot on DStv.

MultiChoice said in January that owing to the "controversies" associated with Gupta-linked ANN7, it would not renew its contract with the channel when it expired in August. The owner of DStv said in March 60 groups were interested in taking over ANN7’s spot. It wanted a black-owned "independent, unbiased and critical" replacement.

Manyi said on Tuesday that Afro Worldview, the new name for ANN7 as of April 30, was "advanced in the bidding process" for the new MultiChoice contract. Being black-owned and managed, and having amended its editorial policies to align with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA, "we are quietly confident that MultiChoice will do the right thing because we are exceeding their requirements", Manyi said.

"Afro Worldview is a going concern that poses virtually no risks to MultiChoice," he said.

Ties cut with Guptas

Afro Worldview cut financial ties with the Guptas in April when Manyi settled debts related to his 2017 acquisition of the channel and its sister publication, The New Age (now Afro Voice). Both entities are held by AfroTone Media Holdings.

Manyi announced on Tuesday that Mandela Legacy Media, represented by Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, the granddaughter of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, had become an AfroTone shareholder along with himself and private investors Unathi Mguye, founder of Storky Management Consulting, and Sifiso Mthethwa, a high court attorney.

The share deal, the details of which Manyi would not disclose, had increased Afro Worldview’s black ownership from 90% to 100%, he said.

The new shareholders were "not your usual suspects" in SA’s black empowerment space. AfroTone would also launch an employee shareholding scheme soon, he said, while "significant progress has been made to stabilise the environment and instil a new level of confidence".

Afro Worldview was also preparing to participate in regulatory hearings aimed at identifying SA’s next free-to-air broadcaster, Manyi said.

Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird said while the broadcaster had rebranded, "serious questions remain about the role of ANN7 and whether or not it was involved in issues relating to state capture".

"All in all, in as much as there have been some key shifts, the core questions that we raised … remain, until and unless we are shown clear evidence to the contrary," Bird said.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za

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