Editors Memo: Why should we trust you on ZBC?

That windfall will see ZBC collecting up to US$140 million annually from Zimbabwe’s estimated 1,5 million licenced cars.

IN January, we warned that at least eight insurance firms could slip into bankruptcy this year, after government muscled its way into the third party insurance market, pushing out a sea of mostly bleeding private players.

This was one of the most recent manoeuvres by under fire authorities, unsettled by results of a history of mismanagement and kleptocracy, to manipulate business and shore up waning state revenues, following years of plunder and de-industrialisation.

Unashamed by how its actions have precipitated capital flight, which has further hurt the haemorrhaging economy, beverages producers were slapped with a sugar tax that business estimates will wipe out US$1,6 billion from companies annually.

The economy is taking some of its sharpest knocks ever, and authorities are turning institutions like the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority into weapons for sweeping all corners in order to save the political careers of brazen looters.

This is not surprising.

A close look at how troubled governments behave exposes  how they often resort to piling up taxes and questionable fees to prop up their operations, or help insolvent, resource guzzling state firms avoid liquidation.

If these go belly up, one most important source of profligacy is closed.

The truth is, all these tomfooleries work at the detriment of citizens.

Beneficiaries of this madness will cry foul.

But they only need to turn back to the final years of the late strongman, Robert Mugabe’s rule, to see how the police was turned into another revenue collection unit, which refused to hand over money to the consolidated revenue fund.

It was relieving to see the current administration applying brakes on an elaborate looting scourge.

But, they are not finished with us yet!

Controversy ridden proposals will soon undergo requisite legislative processes to force motorists to folk out US$92 annually to prop up the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), after viewers left in droves, frustrated by poor programming.

That windfall will see ZBC collecting up to US$140 million annually from Zimbabwe’s estimated 1,5 million licenced cars.

As a journalist myself, I need no introduction to the strategic role of public service broadcasting, or how important it is for us to rally behind this very essential national asset.

 This is how the British Broadcasting Corporation and other state broadcasters are being funded.

But accountability in those institutions are high, and the public receives value for money.

After running down one of Africa’s oldest broadcasting stations through mismanagement, political meddling and other forms of vices,  motorists have become the weakest prey to make up for these  immoralities .

In 21 years of business journalism, I have reported about how state firms have been turned into the most intoxicating weapons for ransacking Zimbabwe’s long suffering citizens.

It is impossible to trust that this hefty package earmarked for ZBC will be utilised for the public good.

When the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) was established, we were given the impression that the era of portholes and crumbling highways was over.

Shockingly, the multimillion dollar fund soon became the nerve centre for some of the worst cases of corruption ever.

You only need to peruse through forensic reports to understand why our roads are the worst in southern Africa.

After running down Air Zimbabwe (AirZim), government tapped into the Number Plate Fund about a decade ago —  draining about US$11 million at some point —  to keep the airline running.

Today, AirZim remains a far cry to the business of immense influence that it once was.

You need to read the auditor general’s reports to understand this manipulation. Examples of these transgressions are many.

This is why I doubt if fresh moves to ‘address’ ZBC’s troubles will leave us wiser.

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