FORMER local broadcasters yesterday opened up on the state of affairs at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), where standards have nosedived with employees going for almost half a year without salaries.
REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU
In separate interviews with NewsDay, the State broadcaster’s ex-staffers bemoaned the situation at ZBC, once an employer of choice in Zimbabwe’s media industry, saying political interference, lack of professionalism and underfunding were the major factors killing the organisation.
“I have got nothing personal against Happison Muchechetere (ZBC CEO on forced leave), but the bottom line is that he’s not an administrator, but a top broadcaster and I think he should concentrate on that and leave qualified people to run the corporation,” former sports reporter Tichaona Sibanda who is now based in the United Kingdom said.
Sibanda also blasted political interference at ZBC saying: “During our era, there wasn’t much interference in as far as news content or programming was concerned. These days I hear that reporters and producers are taken to task for not giving adequate coverage to President Robert Mugabe or Zanu PF.”
However, Gilbert Nyambabvu, a former news anchor on This Morning, disagreed, blaming ZBC’s alleged poor content on lack of creativity.
“We are often told that the problem at ZBC is interference by the political establishment (Zanu PF), but I’m not persuaded by that argument.
“Once you have a leadership that can stand up to the politicians, you may then liberate the talent which those of us who worked at the ZBC know exists in abundance. Someone once said all news is propaganda — so why is BBC or CNN or SABC propaganda, perhaps, more watchable than ZBC propaganda?” Nyambabvu, who is now also based in England queried.
Former star presenter Tichafa Matambanadzo also took a swipe at broadcasting standards at ZBC, saying compromising quality had significantly affected viewership at the State broadcaster.
“They (ZBC leadership) must give chance to fresh ideas. Whenever youngsters take new ideas, the old guard there feels threatened and victimises these youths.
Genuine mentorship, like what some of us received, is no longer there. It’s a culture we need to inculcate in every sphere, be it business, politics, sport — you name it. At the end of the day, ZBC needs to create an exciting product which everyone would be proud to attach their products to,” Matambanadzo, popularly known as Tich Mataz said.
Another presenter Praxedes Jeremiah, who left ZBC at the turn of the millennium and is in Europe, ruled out another dance with the national broadcaster.
“I don’t see myself going back to ZBC. I will only come back to Zim to open my own radio and TV station,” she said.
The ZBC crisis resulted in Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo last week dissolving the entire board and suspending Muchechetere alongside three other senior members of staff, pending a forensic audit to determine the extent to which the State broadcaster could have been prejudiced.