ZBC workers not paid while boss takes home $40,000 a month

Reports that government is finally acting on the mismanagement at the ZBC, where workers have gone unpaid for months while top managers were earning huge salaries, may be positive but the public must be wary of politicians trying to gain mileage, analysts have warned.

States media reports said a Monday meeting between deputy information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, acting ZBC chief executive Allan Chiweshe and workers resolved that salaries of management will be cut by between 20 and 40 percent.

The Herald reported Tuesday that the meeting heard the sensational details of CEO Happison Muchechetere’s wage bill which is nearly $40,000 per month.

According to the report Muchechetere, who was made the substantive CEO in May 2009, has to date been paid over $2 million. He earns $27,000 a month and gets an additional $3,000 as an entertainment allowance, $2,500 to pay his domestic workers, a $3,500 housing allowance and a general allowance of $3,000.

Muchechetere also has unlimited access to fuel every month, business class air tickets for him and his family to international destination of his choice, three regional air tickets and unlimited local tickets every year.

These details come a month after information minister Jonathan Moyo sent Muchechetere on paid leave and warned that he had information that will shock the nation about the rot at the national broadcaster. Mandiwanzira is quoted expressing his ‘shock’ at the revelations. He added that ZBC was paying for Muchechetere’s mortgage and for the construction of an entertainment center at his house. He also added that the government would ensure that ZBC workers are paid before Christmas.

But analysts were quick to warn that Muchechetere’s case was just the tip of an iceberg and that he was being singled out as a tactic to divert the public’s attention from the broader rot in government.

Law lecturer and advisor to former PM Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said the problem at the ZBC was that of ‘systematic failure in public and semi public institutions’.

Magaisa said an opportunity for deeper reflection could be missed if a focus was placed only on Muchechetere. He added that a deeper probe would reveal the problem was broader and that Muchechetere was ‘merely a pauper’. Speaking to SW Radio Africa Tuesday Magaisa questioned the impression that what the Herald termed a ‘feast’ at the ZBC could have gone on without the full knowledge of the board and the government.

Political analyst Itai Dzamara said it was hypocrisy on behalf of the government to appear to want to care about the workers when government officials are publicly showing off excessive individual wealth.

Only last Friday, ZANU PF hosted its own fundraising dinner where a table was going for $25,000, an amount which can pay the salaries of 40 journalists. Former central bank governor Gideon Gono last weekend gave his daughter a mansion as a wedding present. – SW Radio Africa

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