INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo told Parliament yesterday that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was creamed of over $24 million by the previous management led by suspended chief executive Happison Muchechetere.
BY RICHaRD CHIDZA
Presenting a ZBC internal audit report to the Parliament Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Moyo appealed for support to adopt the broadcaster’s debt which he said was still accruing.
Muchechetere is on suspension and currently on trial for allegedly inflating the price of an outside broadcast (OB) van, while former board chairman Cuthbert Dube was sacked for his part in the chaos that resulted in ZBC workers going for over half a year without pay.
“ZBC is technically insolvent and this is your national broadcaster. It will not be able to discharge its national mandate without government assistance. Broadcasting is content and content does not come cheap, an insolvent national broadcaster will not be able to facilitate and support the production of content,” Moyo said.
He said Muchechetere’s executive team awarded itself hefty allowances resulting in direct benefit of over $6 million, while Dube’s board illegally received $274 000 in allowances.
Moyo added that “poor barter deals cost $450 000, statutory funds and interest $15 million, OB van pricing or overpricing $786 000”.
“It is necessary to look at ZBC, learn from this audit and take action including allowing the courts of justice to determine some of the issues,” he said.
Moyo confirmed some senior staffers had since returned to work without mentioning names.
“All cases are nearing closure either through labour processes or the courts. Some of the suspended managers had to be reinstated after the legal process that followed the audit,” Moyo said.
Moyo also presented a report produced by the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry that he said would inform future policy and legislation.
In a lengthy address to the committee, Moyo said Zimbabwe would “partly” comply with the International Telecommunications Union deadline for digitalisation.
He said he had asked ZBC, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and Transmedia to “come up with a definition of compliance”.
“To us, compliance means switching off all transmitters that will likely interfere with neighbouring countries. These are mainly along the borders or near to. We have three transmitters, one in Kamativi that is likely to interfere with Zambia and the two in Mutare and Nyanga that are likely to interfere with Mozambique. We will concentrate on those and make sure they are switched to digital. If we do that, we will be complaint,” he said
Moyo also said Zimbabweans would need to agree on a definition of a “community” before community radio stations are issued licences.