New Zimbabwe (London)

28 January 2014

Zimbabwe: ZBC Bosses Got U.S $200k Each to Buy Houses

MORE details have emerged about the looting spree at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) with managers said to have helped themselves to about $200,000 each to buy houses while continuing to draw thousands of dollars in housing allowances.

According to documents seen by the Herald newspaper, the top four managers at the public broadcaster unprocedurally set up a housing scheme with mortgage finance from CBZ Building Society supported by US$1,3million deposited by ZBC in an investment account.

Under the scheme, which is said to have been signed off by former board chairman Cuthbert Dube, the four mangers were given a total of $850,000 to buy houses in Harare's pricy and posh northern suburbs.

Those who benefited under the scheme include suspended CEO Happison Muchechetere who was given US$250,000, while Elliot Kasu, Allan Chiweshe (general manager radio programming) and Tazzen Mandizvidza (general manager news and current affairs) all got US$200,000 each.

ZBC paid off Muchechetere's loan in full while meeting 50 percent of the obligations for Kasu, Chiweshe and Mandizvidza.

However, despite buying houses under the scheme, all four continued to draw housing allowances from the cash-strapped broadcaster over the past four years.

Muchechetere's allowance stood at US$3,500 while Kasu, Chiweshe and Mandizvidza were each paid $2,500 every month, defrauding the company of about US$1.8 million over the past four years.

Muchechetere has since been suspended while Dube and his entire board were relieved of their duties. However Chiweshe is now the acting chief executive while Mandizvidza remains at Pockets Hill as head of the news department.

It has also been revealed that while workers went for nearly seven months without pay, sometimes only getting $40 for bus fare, the four managers froze their salaries in feigned solidarity but still claimed thousands of dollars in allowances each month.

Muchechetere was paid US$9,300 every month broken down as US$3,500 housing allowance, US$2,400 for security, US$3,000 entertainment allowance, and US$400 for domestic workers.

His three subordinates were paid a total of US$5,300 in allowances broken down as US$2,500 for housing, US$2,400 for security and US$400 for maids without fail each month.

The company's 2013 budget is also said to have included a new Mercedes Benz S350 and a Land Cruiser for Muchechetere even though his existing fleet was basically new.

Former board member Trevor Manhanga said the board was never made aware of the perks of the executives with Dube insisting on he could deal with the issue.

"That was never brought to the board, and the board turned down a budget for 2013 which included luxury vehicles for the management. The decision regarding conditions of service for the guys was the chairman's business," said Manhanga.

MUCHECHETERE'S CONTRACT

THE BENEFITS

Basic Salary: Your basic salary shall be US$15,000 (Fifteen thousand US dollars) per month, subject to regular reviews whenever necessary.

Performance Related Bonus: A quarterly performance-related bonus of 12,5% of annual basic salary payable upon meeting targets.

Annual Bonus: The Company will pay an annual bonus equal to the monthly gross salary (13th cheque). The bonus is payable at the end of November each year.

Leave Entitlement: You will be entitled to 42 days' vacation leave and 12 days casual leave per annum.

Motor Vehicle: Gratuity: To retain the vehicles you used during the expired contract as gratuity. You will be entitled to a personal S350 Mercedes and Toyota Land Cruiser (or equivalent) consistent with the profile and image expected of a Group Chief Executive Officer of such an institution. These will be fully serviced and maintained by the Company. The vehicles allocated will be sold to you at book value at the expiry of three years, retrenchment or any other eventuality.

Housing: Gratuity: Company to pay off mortgage to existing property and give title deeds as gratuity for expired contract. You will be paid a housing allowance equivalent to prevailing market rates for a reasonable low-density house that is fully furnished. Company to construct an entertainment area for guests at the house.

Water and Electricity: The Company will pay for domestic water and electricity bills in full. The payment shall be on the production of invoices from the service providers.

Domestic Workers: You will be entitled to four domestic workers (two housekeepers and two gardeners), at prevailing market rates.

School Fees: You will be entitled to 100% school fees for academic, tertiary and local university studies for a maximum of three children to be paid upon production of school fees invoices.

Entertainment Allowance: You will be entitled to unlimited business entertainment allowance, provided it is reasonably controlled. It extends to home entertainment calculated @ 20% of your basic salary payable every month.

Medical Aid: A non-contributory medical aid package to cover self, spouse, children and not more than three adult family dependants will be provided.

Pension Scheme: A non-contributory pension scheme borne by the Employer.

Sporting Club and Professional Subscriptions: The Company will pay annual subscriptions for three sporting and professional associations of your choice.

Home Telephone and Internet: To be paid by the Corporation in full on supply of invoices from the service providers.

Cellphone: The Corporation shall provide three cellphone handsets and three sim cards from the three largest service providers. It must, however, be pointed out that the Corporation expects reasonable usage failing which the benefit may be reduced or withdrawn altogether.These will be given to you at the expiry of your contract, retrenchment or any other eventuality.

Fuel: Provision of unlimited fuel per month at reasonable use.

Security: In addition to a 24-hour security guard at your residence, you will be entitled to a security wall with an electrified fence and razor wire.

Monitoring Gadgets: You will be entitled to three sets of personal radios, television sets and accessories for monitoring of all radio and television stations from home and for the entertainment area.

DSTV: Annual subscriptions for full bouquet DSTV facility at home and for the entertainment area.

Holiday Allowance: a) You will be entitled to five Business Class return airfares every twelve months to overseas destinations of choice and the per diem for seven (7) nights at ZBC's expense and including immediate members of the family.

b) You shall be entitled to three regional business return airfares to destinations of your choice, including members of your family.

c) You shall be entitled to unlimited local holiday destinations of your choice, including immediate family members.

Office Consumables: As per Company Policy.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish to congratulate you on this re-appointment. This offer is given in three copies. If you are in agreement kindly sign and return to me two of the copies at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Cuthbert E. DUBE

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS -- ZBC

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