The board of directors is challenging the salary increments management awarded themselves and the workers during the tenure of now sacked chief executive Happison Muchechetere, arguing the pay reviews prejudiced the broadcaster of $23 million.
One of the annexures in the court papers — a report written in March 2015 by Tazzen Mandizvidza, the acting head ZBC News and Current Affairs — has revealed some of the unprofessional and bad decisions that were made at the institution.
And the current board, led by Gibson Munyoro, is now using Mandizvidza’s report as evidence in court to prove that the pay increments were illegal and that the employees are not entitled to arrears emanating from the pay rise.
In the report titled: Appeal to the ZBC Board of Directors for Re-engagement, in which he answered to allegations that he was facing at the time, Mandizvidza, spilled the beans.
“Focusing on the 2009 to 2013 period, I was part of the management which made certain decisions, some wrong and others unprofessional, which compromised the corporation and steered the ship into deep waters. I accept that there are instances that I erred as an individual and those where we made wrong decisions as a team, which has led to my suspension and the charges my colleagues and I are facing today.
“Although I am partly to blame for management decisions made, I operated under an environment that did not give room to escalate problems upwards as the chairman of the board was working closely with the CEO and as senior management we were barred from taking anything to the ministry. The result is I worked with and benefitted in some cases from a system that delved in malpractices,” Mandizvidza said.
In that report, Mandizvidza narrates how salary increments were made in a manner he said prejudiced the national broadcaster.
“…I was part of the management which made the decision to increase the salaries. In retrospect, I should have blown the whistle on such a practice that landed the corporation into serious financial problems.
“I however, must point out that there was always an environment of intimidation as the board chairman on three separate occasions called for a senior management where he threatened those who ‘rush’ to report to the ministry of Information and Publicity with dismissal. I also queried the increase in light of the resultant high salary bill versus revenue inflows which were quite low,” he said, further explaining the shoddy state of affairs at the national broadcaster.
He concluded the report by seeking to be re-engaged by the corporation in any capacity.
“It is quite regrettable that I was part of a management that did not always do things correctly and I want to assure you that if given another chance, I will not participate in similar practices but most important will not watch that happen and will take appropriate steps to ensure the corporation is protected,” he said.
According to the current court application in which the corporation is suing 350 employees, the board claims that between 2010 and 2011, Muchechetere got a 459 percent salary increase, while earnings for general managers were hiked by 374 percent without the approval of the board.
It was further claimed that other managers and heads of departments were awarded a 149 percent rise, while the general staff got a 111 percent increase.
According to the board, the salary hikes were fraudulent, unsanctioned and had the effect of crippling the operations of the State broadcaster.
The workers are yet to respond to the application. Daily News