THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has reached tipping point after Treasury withdrew budgetary support at a time when the national broadcaster is in dire straits due to a number of factors that include mismanagement. This development comes as the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services has instituted an audit at the parastatal to address the deepening crisis, which saw top managers getting obscene salaries, partially blamed for bringing ZBC to its knees.
Efforts are currently underway to convince government to take over the parastatal’s debts to ease the operational challenges. This could be followed by the restructuring of ZBC to shed some staff as part of cost-cutting measures meant to ensure the parastatal’s survival.
In a recent report, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services said it was concerned that Treasury had failed to fund ZBC in the 2014 National Budget, with lawmakers describing the situation at the public broadcaster as dire.
“It is disturbing to note that ZBC was not allocated any funds for its operations in 2014 yet it also needs to replace production equipment and its obsolete fleet meant for content production,” reads part of the report.
“Similarly, New Ziana is embarking on a downsizing exercise as a cost cutting measure. The retrenchment costs for both institutions are US$7,150,000 and were not catered for in the 2014 budget.”
ZBC’s management was the first to be fingered in the ongoing salary gate scandal. Its chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere was exposed for earning over US$40 000 per month, while other staff members went for months without getting paid. Former ZBC board chairman, Cuthbert Dube, who is said to have authorised some of the obscene payments and benefits is also under fire for milking the Premier Service Medical Aid Society by drawing an obscene salary.
Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo and his deputy, Supa Mandiwanzira are in a no nonsense mood as they are demanding answers from the State broadcaster and have vowed that the law should take its course where crimes have been committed. Their public stand to demand accountability is in sharp contrast with other ministers who are apparently trying to cover up the dirt in parastatals that fall under their ministries.
Analysts claim that the silence and bid to sweep the dirt under the carpet points to the possibility that some ministers were complicit in the scandals. — Staff Reporter