THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has received a report from disgruntled ZBC workers alleging that bosses were enriching themselves while the ailing company was going aground.
Report by by Nqaba Matshazi
This comes at a time the company has lost advertisers, listener and viewership to new radio stations ZiFM, Star FM and satellite broadcasters.
The workers warned that top ZBC management may cost Zanu PF in the next elections as the institution was sometimes failing to broadcast programmes due to technical challenges.
In a letter copied to the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity and the Office of the President and Cabinet, the unnamed workers accused their management of rampant abuse of funds and corruption, claiming their bosses were awarding themselves huge salaries and allowances, while workers’ salaries were delayed.
“It is the desire of workers that the government as the majority shareholder should urgently institute a commission of enquiry to investigate the rampant abuse of funds by the corrupt management,” reads the letter.
The workers further claimed that managers were paying themselves between US$5 000 and US$20 000, while ordinary staffers were getting between US$300 and US$600, with salaries for the past four months having been delayed by more than two weeks.
The ZBC workers were by yesterday still to get their September salaries. They alleged ZBC had a monthly wage bill of US$1,3 million, with 600 employees sharing US$600 000, while the 46 managers share the remaining US$700 000.
“The management has resorted to a lavish lifestyle, which even top executives for listed companies do not enjoy,” the workers said.
The workers yesterday claimed that one of the senior managers awarded himself a tender to supply 5 000 chickens to the staff canteen at an inflated price of US$10 per bird.
Workers were now forced to eat chicken daily for lunch and supper as there was no alternative.
What has outraged the staff is that the working environment has deteriorated to an extent that journalists now have to sit on desks for their meetings, while management lives the high life.
“What is supposed to be the flagship of the company has been downgraded to an area full of confusion,” reads the letter.
“Reporters are sitting on desks during diary meetings, they do not have computers, vehicles are in short supply and most of them (are) poorly serviced that they have become death traps.”
The ZBC workers said the company only had three cameras for 15 reporters and this had compromised the quality of news production, while the archiving system was in shambles and outdated.
The workers’ morale was low, a warning that the situation had become a powder keg and the management had to be overhauled “if we are to fulfil our national mandate of defending the country sovereignty (sic)”.
ZACC chairperson, Denford Chirindo said the commission was investigating various cases of corruption involving individuals and institutions, including parastatals.
“The unfortunate thing is that we cannot disclose the identity of people we are investigating because the moment we do that, the suspects will be warned and will change their modus operandi.
“This will frustrate our investigations,” said Chirindo. “All I can say is that we are up to the job and in due course you will hear from us.”
But ZBC spokesman, Sivukile Simango confirmed the existence of the letter.
“Whoever has written that has chosen to remain anonymous and this shows that these people do not want to engage management,” he said.
“If they have problems, they should talk to the management, newspapers will not solve their problems.”
Simango said the letter was an exaggeration written by people who thought ZACC would descend on ZBC. He however declined to comment on the salary disparities.
Efforts to get a comment from Cuthbert Dube, the ZBC board chairman, were in vain as his phone went unanswered.
ZBC is also said to be saddled in debts owing huge sums of money to service providers for telephones, power, rates, water and other services.