MEDIA, Information and Broadcasting Services secretary George Charamba yesterday blasted suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere saying he was not qualified for an administrative post nor did he deserve the hefty salary he received during his tenure.
Charamba made the remarks when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services chaired by Umzingwane MP William Dewa saying he had produced a damning report where he ran short of saying the whole ZBC management should be fired for incompetence.
The presidential spokesperson said he had created more enemies than friends at ZBC due to the various interventions made by his ministry to deal with the rot at the public broadcaster.
Muchechetere hit the headlines recently as being one of the highest paid CEOs with an income of about $40 000 per month, while workers at ZBC had gone unpaid for seven months.
Charamba told the committee that $4,6 million had already been disbursed to the broadcaster to settle salary arrears, adding that the ministry was planning to retrench some of ZBC’s 1 098 workers.
“There is a damning report where I ran short of saying we just have to dismantle the whole ZBC management,” Charamba said.
“The incumbent (CEO) did not have the qualities to be where he was, but the former Information and Publicity minister (Webster Shamu) could not move to deal with ZBC issues because it was during elections and so we said we were going to get rid of the CEO or underpin him with the post of chief operations officer because here is an editor who was running an institution as an administrator and he was not qualified for that post (CEO’s post).”
He added: “The moment you ask for fundamentally more than what you are bringing in as CEO then it means that contract is fundamentally flawed. We have a 47-member strong executive team who account for 33% of the whole salary budget – that is unsustainable. Their contracts were signed by one member of the board and not the whole board and there was no documentation to the parent ministry to say the board had concluded their perks. There was absolutely no legal basis to uphold those conditions of service.”
According to Charamba, if ZBC could receipt $13 million per year there was no explanation why it accumulated salary arrears worth $4,6 million.
He denied there were ghost workers at ZBC, preferring to say these were workers who had no clear contracts.
Charamba also told the committee that New Ziana will have to retrench about 77 staffers.
“We are again seeing an imbalance at New Ziana where we have a disproportionate amount of workers related to administrative support services and again retrenchment costs will come to play,” he said.
He said the biggest challenge he will face with the budget allocation was to ensure Transmedia managed to install 25 more signals for the new radio stations that are set to be licensed soon.
Another hurdle for the ministry was to meet the 2015 international requirements to digitalise, adding that ZBC would need a complete overhaul in terms of equipment in order to digitalise.