9 March 2014

Zimbabwe: ZBC Should Have Shut Down - Moyo

Information minister Jonathan Moyo last week said the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) should have closed down long ago because it was insolvent.

Last year, ZBC workers went for seven months without getting paid.

Addressing journalists in Bulawayo last week, Moyo said the national broadcaster should have long been liquidated after some of its officials ran down the company through "corrupt" activities.

"When we came into office we found that ZBC was technically insolvent and it had a wage bill of US$1,3 million per month and operational costs of US$1 million per month while their monthly income was just US$300 000. So how do you operate with such a scenario?" Moyo asked.

He added: "The basic principle of any organisation is the ability to pay and when any organisation does not have the ability to pay its expenses, it must shut down and must go under liquidation and it's very simple."

He chided the ZBC management for regularly asking for government grants when they were allegedly misusing the money collected from licensing fees.

"The ZBC people have for too long been saying the government does not give us grants and should give us money yet they are the only institution that licenses people and that has a dispensation from Zimra to collect a fee from every person who possesses a receiver," said Moyo.

"They squander that money or they don't collect it properly and they also have all sorts of books including here at Montrose where they had fake licensing books."

The Information minister alleged that some ZBC officials were collecting money for licences from listeners and pocketing it.

"Government is an institution that gets money from the tax payers and the tax payers are the generality of Zimbabweans and you want the Zimbabweans to pay you for doing nothing. What is it that is special about you to deserve that? Your work is just to demand to be paid," fumed Moyo.

The minister said it was baffling that ZBC was demanding money from listeners when it was producing mediocre programmes that no one viewed.

"If you look at the content that is coming out; they are producing things that nobody is watching. We are tired of people who do not want to take responsibility for their own actions," said Moyo.

He accused the ZBC of failing to discharge its mandate in terms of "public expectation, national interest and in terms of the law." Moyo said people in Binga were not receiving ZBC signals and yet the national broadcaster still wanted them to pay listeners' licences.

Last year, the government suspended ZBC chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere who was earning more than US$40 000 per month while most of the workers went for several months without pay.

General manager of finance, Eliot Kasu, who was taking home US$26 875 every month, was also suspended.

Efforts to get a comment from ZBC spokesperson Gladman Bandama were fruitless yesterday.

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