By Tichaona Zindoga
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is technically insolvent as it is realising only US$275 000 per month in revenue against a budget of US$2,3 million of which US$1,6 million should go to worker’s salaries.
It emerged yesterday that with such a dire financial situation, the national broadcaster would only be in a position to pay its workers with Government assistance.
The ZBC workers have gone for six months without salaries. Additionally, the company is in arrears of US$8,3 million owed to the workers for outstanding salaries, while it also has to meet some statutory obligations.
The sorry state of the national broadcaster was revealed by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Supa Mandiwanzira when he met its top management yesterday at Pockets Hill studios in Harare.
But the workers could get some Christmas cheer as the national broadcaster is negotiating with a financial institution to get some financial relief.
The provision of the funds from the financial institution would be a short-term measure pending a full forensic audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General which started last week.
The ZBC board was recently dissolved, with chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere and finance manager Eliot Kasu being sent away on paid leave.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General has since been asked to undertake an urgent, comprehensive forensic audit of the corporation
Deputy Minister Mandiwanzira, who expressed shock at the state of affairs at the ZBC, said it was clear the national broadcaster was failing to meet its obligations.
“From what has been presented to us, the reality is that from the coffers of the institution, they are unable to pay those salaries, but I am delighted that they have informed us that there are engagements with financial institutions where there are possibilities that some funds could be obtained on the back of a Government guarantee,” he said.
“The issue of the Government guarantee is something that I will have to take back to the Honourable Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, to see if the ministry can consider this and if it is something that can be done, necessary approaches will be done to the Treasury.
“But I would say that the ministry is doing everything it can to ensure that ZBC goes back to its heydays where it was a renowned broadcaster that was able to do what was expected, not only by Government, but by the people who listen to the radio and watch TV stations.”
He urged ZBC management to shift towards a business model that aims to make profit out of broadcast business rather than rely on the collection of licence fees.
ZBC acting chief executive Allan Chiweshe said workers could get paid their outstanding salaries by Christmas.
“We are still negotiating something and once we find a breakthrough we will engage the Government for a guarantee so that maybe we may give workers something before Christmas,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by finance officers from the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services. The Herald