Calls for a boycott of radio and television licence payments as a protest against open plunder of public funds at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) through payment of huge salaries to individuals are more than justified.
While we acknowledge and to some extent commend Zimbabweans for their sobriety and patience, often regarded as bordering on docility, we find it within reasonable cause for Zimbabweans to, for once, express their displeasure in this manner.
The reasons for this kind of feeling among those agitating for a licence payment boycott cannot be entirely unjustifiable. They are refusing to finance a culture of greed, insensitivity and impunity – to fund a system that encourages looting.
The Combined Harare Residents’ Association — representatives of the people that are being forced to pay money for very poor or non-existent services or for a product that they are being asked to consume against their will and which commodity they may, after all, not consume at all because it is not palatable — issued a statement yesterday saying its constituency has “always complained of poor quality programming and partisan reporting being done by the national broadcaster”.
“ . . . Logically speaking, we connect the recent operations by ZBC which forces motorists and domestic television and radio owners to buy radio and TV licences so that individuals like (suspended ZBC CEO Happison) Muchechetere can gallivant around the world with their families whilst the rest of Zimbabweans enjoy old Chinese movies and repeated programmes week in and week out.”
Revelations that Muchechetere is taking away an astronomical monthly bounty of more than $35 000 — money that is being forced out of people that may not be listening or viewing any of the national broadcaster’s products — have shocked the nation.
That is the reason why there is this agitation for the boycott which action we find reasonable until at least the looting and the administrative mess at ZBC has been sorted out and until the broadcaster offers consumers value for their money.
Like other parastatals that have continued to milk the taxpayer for virtually nothing, ZBC has for years been rightly accused of the same incompetence and massive plunder by a few top managers that have presided over empty grain silos at the Grain Marketing Board, decaying rail wagons (National Railways of Zimbabwe), grounded airplanes and skyrocketing debt (Air Zimbabwe), graft-ridden Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, and dilapidated CMED.
The Harare residents said in their statement yesterday that Muchechetere must be made a public example and be “arrested for looting”.
They must, however, not stop with Muchechetere. Everybody that authorised that plunder or that was aware and/or approved the salary and allowances must be called to account.