7 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Moyo Attacks ZBC

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has attacked the ZBC, saying the national broadcaster is failing to move with the times due to a combination of corruption and incompetence.

Moyo delivered the attack in Bulawayo at a meeting during which he also called on the Diaspora community to contribute towards the country's development. Reports said Moyo told the Bulawayo Press Club Thursday that the government was drawing up a raft of policies to attract skilled Zimbabweans back into the country.

Responding to a question on the national broadcaster's failure to pay workers Moyo accused the workers of squandering licence fees and of abusing the equipment on private business instead of producing a quality product. He said an audit has so far revealed that some workers issued fake listeners' licences and then 'pocketed' the fees. Moyo said ZBC workers should not 'expect to be paid for stealing.'

The minister scoffed at the national broadcaster for producing programmes which he said, 'nobody neither wants to hear or watch.' Moyo also urged ZBC to abandon old material such as the Hondo Yeminda (Land War) musical programmes which the national broadcaster used to try and ratchet up support for the land grab exercise. Moyo's comments will have come as a surprise to the media community as many associate the state of affairs at the national broadcaster with his earlier stewardship.

Most of the Hondo Yeminda jingles were adaptations of liberation war and folklore songs, reproduced and aired under his instruction. After Moyo was fired as information minister in 2004 the ZBC continued to air some of the jingles until his reappointment last year.

Between 2000 and 2004 Moyo terrorized journalists in the state media by either dictating content to them or hounding them out of their jobs.

Former ZBC Bulawayo bureau chief, Tapfuma Machakaire, has previously accused Moyo of 'killing the ZBC.' In his 2012 memoir titled, Nose for News, which was launched at the same venue where Moyo was speaking Thursday, Machakaire said the minister 'discouraged advertisers' something which led to a fall in revenue. As a result, Machakaire wrote, the national broadcaster lost most of its skilled workers with some of them skipping the country into the Diaspora.

Moyo's attack on the ZBC follow recent revelations that senior managers were earning 'corrupt salaries' with the CEO, Happison Muchechetere, said to have been taking home as much as $40,000 per month. Moyo later forced Muchechetere on unpaid leave and fired the ZBC board. During the Bulawayo meeting Moyo claimed that these decisions were taken on the advice of the cabinet and President Mugabe.

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