State media poorly run and funded – report

Last week we published the first extract from a report by a Parliament Portfolio Committee on the state-run media which was highly critical of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH). In this second extract, the Zanu (PF)-dominated committee concludes that the state media is poorly organized and run, i

ts journalists are badly paid, and it lacks both capital and qualified staff.
Management felt that the General Manager (of The Chronicle, Bulawayo) was not adequately empowered to make decisions that matter as even small decisions had to be referred to Head Office. He was there just to pass reports on to the headquarters and be instructed on what to do. Management also felt that the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. J. Mutasa was wielding too much power.
(At The Herald) the Committee was informed that there was no workers committee in place as the previous committee had abandoned its duties due to threats from the management.
Management was accused of corruption, physical and sexual abuse of female workers and that management was not following the laid down procedure when they dealt with such issues. The Committee also learned that Zimpapers management was misappropriating company resources by either buying them below their market value or personalising its function, for example cars, fuel coupons or overseas trips.
Mutasa stated that the issue of the Workers Committees plight had to do with corporate governance. In the past they used to have it their own way and that in essence had brought the company to its knees.
The Committee recommended that restructuring at ZBH should be done in terms of the old Zimbabwe Broadcasting Company structure and have top structure with four tiers headed by: A Chief Executive Officer (first tier), a Directorate (4); Human Resources, Administration and Finance, Broadcasting Services and Business Development (second tier), Heads of Departments: News and Current Affairs, Radio Services, Zimbabwe Television Services, Information Systems, Engineering and Technical Services, Corporate Services, Production Services, and Marketing and Business Services (third tear), and editorial Staff (fourth tear). Transmedia should be incorporated in the new ZBH structures as part of the Engineering department.
The Committee recommends that BAZ should focus on issuing out licences in 2006 especially the Community radios in every district. BAZ needs new monitoring Transmitters, as the current ones are obsolete. BAZ must come up with a strategy to combat the pirate stations, which are deliberately over spilling into Zimbabwe. The government allocation for BAZ should gradually be reduced, as it will become self-sustaining when more broadcasters are licensed.
The Committee observed that there were newspapers that flood the Zimbabwean market a day or two before the elections. The Committee recommends that there should be a regulation that prohibits the coverage of elections at least 48 hours prior to the elections just as in the United Kingdom and the United States of America they have compliance laws
On the matter of the Media and Information Commission (MIC) controlling foreign distributors of newspapers and magazines, your Committee noted that this was a matter of public policy, which should be referred to the public.
The Committee identified the following problems that are universal in the media industry; poor organizational structures that are not in line with the government thrust to make the parastatals self-sustaining entities. These organizations are fraught with administrative short comings, for instance; unclear authority demarcations, low remuneration of personnel resulting in the resignation of most of the qualified personnel, lack of capitalization – either in the short term or long term and in some cases organizations had foreign debts that are increasing year after year due to inflation.
The Committee recommends that the government should either streamline these organizations by reducing them into a leaner structure with a few Strategic Business Units or to serious consider recapitalization or to consider other sources of investment.
Committee members: L. Mugabe (chairperson), L. Chikomba, G. Chimbaira, S. Machirori,
E. Mdlongwa, T. Mubhawu, J. Moyo, D. .M. Ncube, C. Pote, E. Porusingazi, J. Sikhala, Z. Ziyambi and M. Zwizwai. Senators: E. Jacob, F. R. E. Magadu, J. Moyo, R. Ndlovu, S. Sai

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