Dawes informed staff at the weekly newspaper and digital news provider on Friday that he is to step down from his post. Dawes will leave the paper in September, after nine years on staff, half of them as editor, to join the Hindustan Times in New Delhi.
"My time at the Mail & Guardian both as a frontline reporter and as editor has been the most fulfilling of my professional life. This is an organisation which places great journalism at the centre of everything it does, but which also has the courage and the creativity to engage with the deep changes that are challenging and revitalising the news business.
"I have had the opportunity to work with a remarkable group of people in our newsroom, and management, as well as with a wise and brave proprietor in Trevor Ncube," Dawes said.
"We've told some great stories together, big and small, and we have positioned the M&G for a mobile, digital and print future in a way that I think is unrivalled on the local media scene. There is, in my view, no better job in South African journalism.
"All that makes it very hard to leave, but I have been offered a remarkable opportunity to help lead a process of change and growth at the Hindustan Times, one of the most important newspapers in a country going through momentous and fascinating changes. I look forward to putting what I have learned at the M&G to work in that new environment and on a very large scale.
"That opportunity would never have arisen without the support of Trevor, the M&G board, the management team here under chief executive Hoosain Karjieker, and most importantly our extraordinary newsroom. They all have my most sincere gratitude."
'Sad and overjoyed'
M&G owner and executive deputy chairperson Ncube said: "I am sad and overjoyed all at once. Sad to be losing a key member of our team at this juncture in our journey. Happy at the opportunity that life has presented to Nic.
"Working with Nic has been rewarding. Rarely do you find an excellent journalist who understands business and is also passionate about technology. Nic has such a beautiful mind and his intellectual leadership will be sorely missed in the newsroom and by the executive team.
"We are proud of what he has been able to achieve at the M&G and Nic departs with our full blessings and best wishes. We will immediately begin the process of identifying suitable candidates to take over the role, both internal and external."