via ZBC mess foretold | The Herald January 21, 2014 by Fidelis Munyoro
Suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chief executive Mr Happison Muchechetere isolated Government from affairs relating to the national broadcaster, a memorandum dated November 1, 2012 and meant for the then minister Cde Webster Shamu has revealed.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba wrote the damning memo on the state of affairs at ZBC, pointing out gross mismanagement under Mr Muchechetere’s stewardship.
The memo was sent to Cde Shamu for his consideration, with recommendations for a shake-up of the entire management and an immediate audit of the corporation.
The revealing memo, that was found among Mr Muchechetere’s files at Pockets Hill, was leaked to The Herald by ZBC staffers unhappy that management was not listening to their concerns inspite of similar concerns raised by the parent ministry.
Minister Shamu – who now heads the ICT, Courier and Postal Services brief – could not be reached for comment last night.
“We, at an appropriate time, get our audit team to move in as we did with New Ziana. Areas of attention must be clearly spelt out to the audit team,” reads the memo in part; “There are real, substantial shortcomings in the ZBC chief executive.”
Mr Charamba said Mr Muchechetere should spend more time at ZBC and not on foreign travel so as to deal with challenges facing the national broadcaster and inquiries from the Anti-Corruption Commission.
He suggested Mr Muchechetere submit monthly reports on ZBC accounts to enable the ministry to keep tabs on the financial affairs at the parastatal. Mr Charamba emphasised on the need for communication between the chief executive, board and the ministry to be streamlined for good corporate governance.
“Above all, we must win the confidence of the workforce by showing a strong hand of oversight. That will minimise the workers’ trips to the Anti-Corruption Commission,” he said.
“The CEO must henceforth have weekly meetings with the secretary until such time that matters stabilise. In the same vein, the minister should have a monthly meeting with the chairman of the board at which both the chief executive and the secretary will be in attendance.”
Mr Charamba said it was imperative that certain administrative matters be dealt with immediately to streamline operations and restore sound labour relations at ZBC.
“Equally, the chief executive will have to readjust his personality so that he rebuilds his image and regains staff trust,” said Mr Charamba. “Presently he and his management have an image of persons who crave for a larger life, all at the expense of workers and sound management of ZBC affairs. That must stop forthwith.”
Mr Charamba’s memo was written at a time ZBC workers had petitioned the ministry and the Anti-Corruption Commission to look into their plight and corporate misgovernance.
“Management is being viewed with mistrust by the unpaid workforce. It is viewed as profligate. And flying out of the country leaving behind an unpaid workforce does not suggest sensitivity at all,” said Mr Charamba in apparent reference to the fact that at that time Mr Muchechetere had flown to Iran on an unnecessary venture and yet salaries had not been paid.
Last week, Mr Charamba told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services that Government would soon wield the axe on managers and staff at ZBC to create a lean, effective and efficient team. He said preliminary investigations showed that 47 managers gobbled about 33 percent of the wage bill.