via ZBC news bulletins boss suspended 23 June 2014
ZBC’s News Bulletins Manager, John Gambanga, has been suspended for 10 days without pay for allegedly failing to “put news on air on time”.
Gambanga was suspended last Friday.
The suspension letter, which was signed by Head of News and Current Affairs, Josephine Zulu, accused the veteran journalist of dereliction of duty after he failed to “put news (bulletins) on air on time” adding on “certain dates the 23:00hrs news bulletins failed to materialise”.
Zulu accused Gambanga of failing to ensure news was broadcast on time during the Zimbabwe Trade Fair in April.
He was also accused him of making unilateral decisions without first consulting the head of news and current affairs.
The state-controlled broadcaster flights three bulletins – Lunch-time News, News Hour at 8pm and the Late Night News Bulletin at 23.00hrs.
Gambanga was suspended during a meeting that was attended by Head of Administration, Bernania Shumba, Head of Radio Services, Chris Chivinge, Head Television Production, Clifford Mufiri, Head Human Resources, Bright Marerwa and members of the workers’ committee.
Gambanga’s suspension comes a few months after the ZBC’s General Manager responsible for news and current affairs, Tazzen Mandizvidza, told the Parliamentary Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services that the corporation was facing a serious shortage of cameras and other broadcasting equipment.
Mandizvidza said they sometimes go through periods of “uncertainty”, unsure “whether they would be able to flight news owing to the unavailability of cameras and equipment”.
A member of the workers’ committee who attended the Friday meeting but preferred to remain anonymous said Gambanga defended himself arguing there was nothing he could do under the circumstances because of the obsolete equipment.
He said Gambanga is a victim of the factional politics within the ruling Zanu PF government that have spilled over to the state-run institutions.
“Gambanga is just being sacrified to appease certain people from the Ministry of Information and some political figures that are not happy with the way news bulletins are being handled at Pockets Hill,” he said.
“Reporters queue to edit their news clips using an outdated machine and sometimes the machine breaks down or it takes long to do its job. This delays the whole process.”
Both Gambanga and ZBC’s Public Relations Manager, Gladman Bandama, declined to comment.
Sources at ZBC said morale was at rock bottom with the 10 reporters based at the corporation’s Pockets Hill base using just two cameras for news gathering. The editing studio is also obsolete.
ZBC’s acting CEO, Allan Chiweshe, recently told staff that the corporation is planning to buy new equipment as soon as they get funds from the government.
But the serious cash flow problems at ZBC might see the state-broadcaster, which has been accused by opposition parties of churning out propaganda to prop up President Robert Mugabe’s government, of failing to meet its June 2015 digitalisation deadline.
Meanwhile, management at ZBC last Friday agreed to dismiss the corporation’s canteen manager, Gabriel Mudariki, after he was caught stealing sadza and beef stew three weeks ago.
Mudariki would buy a plate of sadza at the staff canteen for 0.50c and sell it for $2 to farmers at Boka Tobacco Auction Floors.