Predicament of doing right – Cathy Buckle

via Predicament of doing right – DailyNews Live by Cathy Buckle  19 MARCH 2014

Events at ZBC have become a better soap opera than most of the programmes the station currently airs.

In the latest instalment both the Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo and the employees have been making strong statements but neither position is generating much sympathy.

Speaking in Bulawayo recently, Moyo told ZBC workers things that the majority of Zimbabweans have been saying for the last decade.

“ZBC is producing content nobody is watching.”

This is a fact which is glaringly obvious in view of the multitude of satellite dishes adorning roofs in cities, towns and even atop thatched huts in rural villages.

“The government cannot reward you for not discharging your mandate. Do you still have public interest?” Moyo asked, responding to ZBC employees’ call for salary increases.

Just weeks after expressing their delight at the minister’s intervention in their plight that led to the unearthing of the scandal of  huge salaries management were taking home, the workers have changed their minds about Moyo.

After the minister turned down ZBC workers’ call for higher wages, an anonymous employee said: “Surely, labour laws in Zimbabwe should protect us from the Prof. First he cut our salaries by half and now he is saying this, what is our crime?”

Another employee said members of their workers’ committee were afraid to go to the Labour Courts in case they lost their jobs altogether.

That is the crux of the matter: ZBC have been dissemination one party’s political propaganda for years while ordinary people have been suffering unimaginable horrors.

When half a million people were losing their jobs and homes during farm seizures, ZBC showed none of it.

When thousands were on the run from political violence during five sets of elections since the new millennium, ZBC showed none of it.

When over a million people were left homeless and destitute after Operation Murambatsvina, ZBC showed almost none of it.

Explaining their silence over the blatantly biased programming, one ZBC employee said:  ‘‘We have since stopped criticising our content because you can be labelled as an opposition sympathiser and end up losing your job.’’

ZBC employees are not the first to face this kind of predicament of making a decision between doing the right thing and losing your job.

On November 4, 2004, one television worker not only made international headlines but also inspired hundreds of others to also do the right thing.

Nataliya Dmytruk was the sign language interpreter on Ukraine’s UTI news broadcasts and instead of translating into sign language the official script that was being read on the news bulletin, Dmytruk signed: ‘‘I am addressing everybody who is deaf in Ukraine. Our president is Victor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies…. And I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you.’’

Dmytruk’s sign language statement started a rebellion. Hundreds of employees at the TV station were inspired by her and made a broad stand for the truth.

‘‘No more lies,’’ they chanted in unison to station owners  and then other reporters also announced on air their intentions to report fairly.

Shortly afterwards Channel UTI changed and adopted a more balanced reporting style.

Asked later about her action, Dmytruk said: ‘‘I just went in and did what my conscience told me to do.’’

Something seemingly impossible had been so simple.



  • comment-avatar

    unfortunately in these times in Zimbabwe, the majority of people would rather loose their souls and sup with the devil for a bite of the gravy train than actually stand up for what is right! Just for a little short term gain most are willing to turn a blind eye or support blatant theft, lies and greed! Cry our beloved Zimbabwe!

  • comment-avatar

    Well said Cathy.J Moyo is a good propagandist who knows how to use naive and senseless people who cannot think beyond their noses.He used them on cheap propaganda like-Dzadzamatula….with ladies dancing without self dignity.That was disgusting but it never happened in Mat because we are not easily fooled by politicians.
    Its always personal choices to be used without self respect and dignity if you allow greed to govern your thinking.
    The minister was right to tell them that they are not worthy anything because they have no self pride and foresight to make ZBC productive.They cannot even realize that things have changed,therefore they should adapt to the new situation for them to survive.I only watch ZBC when my daughters and their families visit us from Europe because they want to catch up with what is happening within their motherland.

  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 8 years ago

    ooooh someone didnt like my post…! OK

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    This is a particularly good piece. Thank you. Unfortunately you can bank on the ZBC employees doing the cheap, the nasty, the opposite of the Ukrainians.

  • comment-avatar
    Fallenz 8 years ago

    ZBC programming is intended for the ignorant (unenlightened) and the ZANUPF faithful. The news coverage is obviously biased toward ZANUPF, and intended to downplay any negatives regarding Zim government. It is not worthily of being labeled a news outlet. But, for many, it is the only source… and when folks are fed only slanted drivel authored by ZANUPF, they come to accept it as truth. That is a form of brainwashing, and it serves ZANUPF purposes just fine.

    A free press (accurate, investigative news) is essential for a nation to be free.

  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    All these institution have been set up to prop up the dinasour party and not Zimbabwe. And there lies the problem. When the party looses support ,ZBC lost the support. ZANU institution will crumble.The parastals,because the y are there to Chanel funds to the party, will crumble.
    Let’s brace ourselves for a very rough landing.
    Really rough landing.

  • comment-avatar
    Observer 8 years ago

    On a few occasions I have been a visitor in some homes,I have seen them watching ZBC tv (despite them having sateline decoders). Since I couldnt dictate what channels my hosts should view in their homes, I made my visits very brief. I couldnt even wait for a meal. If I watch ZBC tv for any length period I develop a headache, real headache. But its also interesting to note that even those who are meant to be pleased with such intolerable programming dont like it.

    I am therefore a foreigner in my own country, and there are many of us.

  • comment-avatar
    Gomogranny 8 years ago

    I had an interesting experience with some ZBC license inspectors. When asked why I had no valid radio licence I said “I am a conscientious objector”….the inspector asked for further explanation which I gave. (Summary = I will not fund propoganda). They asked me if I was Mrs Bennett? Mrs Bennett….no that is not my name but I am interested why you would think that? We had a long chat….and they happily sent me on my way, wishing me a safe journey. To this day I have no license…..and believe that every person speaking up will bring ZBC to it’s senses. Just like the government – THEY NEED US…NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Good people have to ACT, not just talk…

    • comment-avatar
      Observer 8 years ago

      Unfortunately, our consumer watchdog went to sleep a long time ago