State media journalists incapacitated, organisation depending on students
Barely two days after the government acquired 27 top of the range vehicles for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), it has emerged that the State owned Zimpapers is failing to pay its journalists decent salaries so much that it allegedly prefers using students on attachment to do most of the work.
Zimpapers, an oligopoly that runs the Herald, H-Metro, Sunday News, Chronicle, uMthunywa and B-Metro, is reportedly neglecting its journalists by cutting their salaries and benefits.
The affected media personnel have since written a letter to management pleading for a review of their wages.
“We the undersigned and being reporters in Sunday News, Chronicle, uMthunywa and B-Metro write to you to raise issues that affect our daily operations in the newsrooms as well as our grave welfare issues,” read part of the letter.
“On our job execution, the situation is becoming gravely with each passing day as the few of us are expected to perform duties of a fully and well staffed newsroom.
“One reporter is expected to do three print stories, three online stories and videos on a daily basis.
“The only sports reporter is now working seven days a week, a shocking situation. All this is because of staffing incapacitation.
“Students on attachment or correspondence are now the backbone of the newsrooms yet the opposite should entail.”
The reporters also feel like they are “subsidising” the company in the form of data among other daily activities that involve Zimpapers’ work.
“The data issue has constantly been raised to no avail yet our core business is Digital and then Publishing.
“Our newsrooms are an eyesore to the Brand as huge as Zimpapers, starting with furniture to everything. It’s now a haven of cockroaches, an embarrassment when visitors come through for interviews.
“What is appalling is that whenever we have a highly powered delegation including Government dignitaries, an all too good situation is presented, including clearing the courtyard of broken down vehicles which we are made to use for our assignments.
“So dire is the situation that we are no longer managing to meet our transport cost to work as public transport operators are now charging in forex, which we are not earning and which we can’t afford to get from the streets.
“It is in this regard that we as reporters based here in Bulawayo have met, caucased and resolved to inform your office as we hereby do of our incapacitation to both report to the newsrooms and also perform our duties to the satisfaction of the employer due to archaic and limited resources.
“We are prepared to submit our content from home just like the peak of the Covid era, as long as the employer will supply us with data.
“We also inform your good office that we have taken a position to formally engage our Ministry for onward engagement with His Excellency on our plight. We remain fully committed to execute our duties but we feel there is lack of reciprocation on the part of the employer, hence this uncomfortable but necessary position we have taken but which we believe is in the best interest of our welfare.
“We are two months before crucial elections and one would expect a harmonious working situation yet the opposite is true.
“We even wonder if our principal shareholder is aware of our grave situation at all, a further reason we now want to engage with him where we will highlight all these and other challenges that inhibit our work, especially now as we count down to elections.
“However, we undertook to first try and find each other internally, thus this memo to your office of which we remain confident that solutions will be proffered urgently even before His Excellency returns home.”