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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Nation sacks circulation manager

The Nation Media Group has sacked its longserving general manager for circulation Sam Mutetei. Mutetei started at NMG before having a short stint at the Standard Group. He rejoined the NMG in 2009 as the GM circulation.
His troubles started when he embarked on a systematic process of pushing experienced staff at the circulation department out of the group. This saw the exit of Elvis Muruli, Peter Rono, Tom Wekesa Thomas Odongo, Florence Wekesa and Reuben Onyimbo. Onyimbo and Ms Wekesa are currently at the Standard Group. He cut short people’s careers and slowed down others’ progress.
His sole aim was to eliminate competition and threats to his position. He also believed they were a hindrance to his mischievous plans at the department.
 He was accused of setting up a parallel distribution system in Nairobi to mint money. This could only happen with friendly staff in place. However, the new staff brought in did not last for long. Many left as they could not bear with his ill motives.
Due to his leadership, NMG management is alarmed by the number of court cases at the Industrial Court against the group. Never before has the group had so many cases at the Industrial Court emanating from one single department. The group is now threatened with the prospect of losing millions in court settlements to former employees.
He then embarked on the process of recruiting either his relatives or tribesmen. Using these new staff and some influential vendors in Nairobi, he allegedly set up a parallel system of selling 5,000 copies of the Nation in Nairobi. Nation sales average 180,000-220,000 copies daily. Nairobi accounts for 40pc of the sales. At Sh40 cleansing price per copy, it is claimed, Mutetei was making Sh200,000 per day.
He  has a palatial house in his rural Kyuso in Mwingi. His residence rivals that of former VP Kalonzo Musyoka. In his earlier years at NMG, he was forced to carry a box full of promotional T-shirts on his head from his house in Komarock by the then and now retired security manager  Sam Kosgei aka Ocampo. He had allegedly stolen what was meant for vendors.
Meanwhile, on the distribution front, he embarked on the futile process of splitting big distributorships into smaller entities. He was essentially creating business opportunities for his relatives or friends. The more experienced older distributors were up in arms. The stage had been set for a bruising battle. It entailed hiving off most lucrative territories from this old players and giving them out to his cronies. Some of these distributors being business buddies and friends of the chairman Wilfred Kiboro and the outgoing CEO Linus Gitai decided to fix him.
He muzzled distribution network in Nairobi, Mombasa, Machakos, Bungoma, Kakamega, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Kisii and Naivasha. For instance under Machakos, he hived off the lucrative Syokimau/Mlolongo/Athi River/Kitengela area and gave it to his brother-in-law whom he paid for to win the distribution.
With the move, he left the original distributor with the vast Machakos county which has few copies but with a lot of overheads to run. Mutetei’s new arrangement for Nairobi sounded alarm at the Nation Centre. Traditionally, the group has been selling newspapers directly to vendors in the CBD. With this arrangement, senior managers at NMG, including  Gitahi were assured of quick source of cash especially on Fridays. They could easily encash company cheques. This had been cut with the recruitment of distributors for the CBD. Something had to be done. Moreover, Mutetei allegedly had a deal with all the newly recruited distributors who were giving him 20pc commission of their sales every month. With over 30 distributors, he was swimming in money.
Finally, the management at NMG was alarmed with the decline in circulation of its publications despite Mutetei promising good prospects with his ideas. Print is the lifeline of the group and any poor show in that area jolts the entire group. Mutetei’s actions of omission and commission had led to declined sales.