$7m scandal rocks ZBC
By Richard Chidza
Three more top ZBC Holdings executives were on Monday suspended in a $7 million scandal unearthed by a government ordered forensic audit into the scam that rocked the public broadcaster at the end of last year.
Acting chief executive officer Allan Chiweshe, general manager News and Current Affairs Tazzen Mandizvidza and head of Finance Ralph Nyambudzi were send packing on Monday, joining the suspended national broadcaster boss Happison Muchechetere and finance director, Elliot Kasu.
While a statement from the ZBC Holdings board claimed it had instituted disciplinary proceedings against Muchechetere, Kasu, Chiweshe, Mandizvidza and Nyambudzi, unconfirmed reports were that the five had been arrested.
“The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation board has begun instituting disciplinary proceedings against suspended chief executive officer Muchechetere and four members of his top executive over acts of misconduct which prejudiced the corporation of over $7m,” said the statement. The board, chaired by clergyman Gibson Munyoro, has since set-up a tribunal led by retired judge Justice James de Vitte.
ZBC Holdings, the statement read, had also engaged the services of “Advocate Mazonde, Isaiah Mureriwa and Magundani of Scanlen and Holderness” to handle the disciplinary proceedings.
Chiweshe, Mandizvidza and Nyambudzi’s suspensions follow the conclusion of the forensic audit report by KPMG chartered accountants “which revealed that Muchechetere and his crew allegedly profited in excess of $3,5m through abuse of office from January 1 2009 to December 31 2013”.
In the statement, Munyoro described Muchechetere as a “collusive leader and partner in the fraud”.
“Meanwhile, acting head Finance and Corporate Services Patrick Mavhura has been appointed acting chief executive officer and head Radio Services Chris Chivinge has been appointed acting general manager news and current affairs with immediate effect,” added the statement.
Muchechetere last denied he had been arrested.
“I am at home and have just heard of the latest suspensions. Nobody has been in touch with me, including the police,” said Muchechetere to The Zimbabwe Mail.
Kasu was not available for comment while his lawyer, Peter Kaonde, said he had talked to his client in the morning with no indication “anything was amiss”. Criminal Investigations Department spokesperson Monalisa Mangena could neither deny nor confirm the “arrests”.
“I am not sure about that and have not been briefed, maybe if you had information on who has arrested them then I could find out for you,” said Mangena.
After failing to pay its low level workers for more than seven months, the ZBC Holdings plunged into a crisis when it emerged that there had been anomalies in the procurement of equipment, including a radio outside broadcast van from China.
Muchechetere has denied the allegation, instead accusing Information minister Jonathan Moyo of instituting a witch-hunt against him. The Zimbabwe Mail