HomeBusinessZBC throws lavish dinner for Gideon Gono

ZBC throws lavish dinner for Gideon Gono

Ngoni Chanakira

THE financially beleaguered ZBC this week threw a $3 million dinner to bid farewell to its outgoing chairman Gideon Gono.

ial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>During the dinner incoming ZBC chairman Justin Mutasa, who also serves at Zimbabwe Newspapers as chief executive officer, told invited guests that ZBC was now making $600 million monthly and managing to offset outstanding debts after a “miraculous turnaround”.

The ZBC and Zimpapers are government’s chief megaphones.

Analysts, however, disputed Mutasa’s impressive statistics, saying the cash-strapped corporation could not be making that kind of money when advertising revenue had dwindled.

They said advertisers had been kicked out of ZBC because of the new political regime led by government chief spokesman Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo also attended the dinner but did not give a speech.

Gono, who was chief executive officer of the government-influenced Jewel Bank, told invited guests that he had been in control at the ZBC at a time when things were very tough.

He said in April and May last year ZBC had almost collapsed.

“The company could not pay its bills and we had to bail them out,” Gono said. “The company was simply sinking in debt.”

He said he decided to devise survival strategies at the ZBC.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” Gono said. “We had to bite the bullet when we moved into ZBC. There were those who thought they were Mr or Mrs ZBC and we had to deal with them. It was a trying period to have to deal with retrenchments at ZBC.”

The corporation underwent a retrenchment period whereby it offloaded 60% of its staff.

Senior staff, some of which had worked for more than 25 years at the corporation, were booted out.

The ZBC had to go to its bankers to acquire money for the retrenchments. Workers told businessdigest that to date however the majority of the workers have still to receive the million-dollar retrenchment packages.

The ZBC kicked out senior veteran journalists such as Musi Khumalo who had worked for the corporation for 25 years, Annan Maruta (21 years) and chief executive officer Luke Munyawarara who had been only two years at the corporation’s helm.

“It was very emotional during this period and we had to go through a period of blood sweat and tears,” Gono said. “Some senior members of staff were going to politicians, even to the president to try and not be retrenched but we as a board said there were no sacred cows. We simply said the company is more important than the individual.”

The incoming RBZ governor said he would look back at ZBC and say he had managed to do his best.

“I tell them that they must not look to the RBZ and think all the revenue will be coming from there,” he said.

Gono said despite Jonathan Moyo’s “tough character” he had managed to work “very well with him” during his tenure as ZBC boss.

Commenting on his new appointment probably for the first time before taking office, Gono said as RBZ governor he was not allowed to speak too often because his sentiments could affect the country’s financial sector.

“I have been told that anything I say can affect the stock market,” Gono said. “I can tell you that I will only speak twice every year – in June and in December. When you see me in town just wave at me because I will not have anything to say to anyone.”

He said the job at the RBZ needed to be done and he would not leave it for miracles.

“I have policies and I will be implementing them. If however there are mistakes made I should not be the only person to be blamed.”

Analysts said he would simply rubber-stamp Zanu PF out-dated rhetoric and would not change anything at the central bank.

Meanwhile, ZBC chief executive officer Munyaradzi Hwengwere said he was also bidding farewell to the corporation after a “short stint” as boss. He did not say where he was heading. “I’ll be farming somewhere in Goromonzi,” Hwengwere said.

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