By Tichaona Sibanda
Former Information Minister in the inclusive government, Webster Shamu must shoulder most of the blame for the bad corporate governance that stalked the ZBC for years and resulted in the entire board being sacked last week.
New Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has also sent chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere on forced leave and ordered a forensic audit to be carried out at the state broadcaster.
However, most employees at the corporation blame Shamu for the rot, accusing him of letting financial mismanagement and poor performance continue unabated during his tenure as Minister in charge of media.
They claim that Shamu, a former broadcaster himself, failed to curtail the rising culture of impunity by management, which effectively reduced professionalism at Pockets Hill.
Despite the majority of workers going for seven months without salaries, senior managers paid themselves ‘eye-watering’ salaries, something that became part of a culture of extravagance at the corporation.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said that more heads will roll at ZBC as Moyo seeks to get to the bottom of the massive financial irregularities, amid reports senior managers received huge loans to buy residential stands. It is not known if the loans are being serviced.
They were also offered additional loans to construct mansions in Harare’s leafy suburbs. According to Muchemwa, most of the senior managers now own numerous houses, cars, and business properties.
“What makes the employees angry at ZBC is that while about 46 senior and middle level managers were being paid over $1 million in uninterrupted salaries every month, hundreds of others were getting nothing,” Muchemwa said.
On top of the salaries, the managers were reportedly receiving fuel, entertainment allowances and private medical aid. This extravagance led to some senior employees approaching President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba to let him know of the goings on.
As soon as Moyo was appointed the new Information Minister, Charamba reportedly confided in a few senior ZBC employees that he felt sorry for Muchechetere as it was obvious he was to be relieved of his duties.
This is despite the fact that he put his reputation on the block by openly supporting ZANU PF, as well as making sure that Mugabe’s opponents got very little coverage if none at all during the period of the unity government, leading up to the elections.
Efforts by the Information Minister to appoint a new face at the corporation have reportedly hit a brick after it emerged that Dr Millicent Mombeshora, who was heavily tipped to take over from Muchechetere has declined the offer.
Mombeshora, formerly known as Millicent Buzuzi, a former DJ and head of Radio 3 and currently the head of strategic planning and special projects at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, insisted she may only take up the position when all the rot has been cleaned. SW Radio Africa