Harare, December 31, 2013- Top executives at the scandal-ridden Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) allegedly used at least 400 ghost workers to fleece the loss-making parastatal of millions of dollars in salaries, the Daily News has leant.
Among the ghost workers are two wives of senior bosses at ZBC who reportedly appear on the salary schedules as station managers for the Mbare and Pockets Hill studios.
Also on the list of ghost employees are dead people and some who either resigned or were fired years ago.
Insiders at the broadcaster told the Daily News that this was revealed at a meeting between workers and the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief Tazzen Mandizvidza yesterday.
“We were told that there is no money to pay us our outstanding salaries. It also emerged from the meeting that there were 400 ghost workers at ZBC,” an insider said.
“Of the 400 ghost workers, we discovered that the wives of two top employees were also paid monthly salaries,” said the insider.
Another senior ZBC employee said: “This is so unfair. We haven’t been paid for the last seven months when the bosses are busy paying their wives who are not employed here.”
Suspended chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere, could not be reached for a comment yesterday as his mobile phone was unreachable but ZBC spokesperson Sivukile Simango confirmed that the meeting took place.
“A meeting was indeed held to discuss our financial issues and if I am not mistaken it did not last for more than five minutes. I am not aware that the ghost workers issue was discussed. Maybe you saw the audit report and you are the one who can tell me what is in it. As for me, I am not privy to the ghost workers issue,” said Simango before referring the paper to the acting chief executive Allan Chiweshe.
Chiweshe could not immediately comment as he was said to be locked up in meetings.
Efforts to get a comment from Information minister Jonathan and his deputy Supa Mandiwanzira proved futile as their mobile phones were unreachable.
The latest revelations of the sordid details at the state broadcaster is a tip of the iceberg as it emerged sometime last month that Muchechetere was earning a $40 000 a month in salaries and allowances.
Mandiwanzira revealed last month that ZBH management including Muchechetere were earning astronomical salaries at a time workers were not being paid.
“It is quite shocking that for instance the CEO earns $27 000 plus, over and above that earns $3 000 in allowances for housing, $2 500 allowance, $3 000 for home entertainment, unlimited business entertainment allowance.
The corporation must pay off his mortgage facility, must built a durawall (security wall), must built an entertainment section at his premises,”Mandiwanzira said.
Mandiwanzira also revealed that the ZBC boss was entitled to unlimited fuel per week, substantial amounts for his domestic workers, unlimited air tickets to fly in the country with his immediate family among other unbelievable perks for a loss making entity.
Muchechetere, who became substantive chief executive in May 2009, has drawn salaries and allowances approximated at $2,28 million to date.
He was recently sent on forced leave to pave way for a forensic audit to be undertaken after Moyo dissolved the board led by Cuthbert Dube.
The board had failed to submit a turnaround strategy document within the 14 days which had been requested by the minister.
Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba, this month told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services that at least 500 workers at the ZBC will be retrenched in a restructuring exercise meant to turnaround the public broadcaster that is saddled with a $44,3 million debt which is to be assumed by Government.
It appears that apparently the “retrenchment” announced by Charamba could mean the removal of ghost workers from the broadcaster’s payroll.
The corporation is technically insolvent as it is realising only $275 000 per month in revenue against a budget of $2,3 million of which $1,6 million should go to workers’ salaries.
Additionally, the company is in arrears of $8,3 million owed to the workers for outstanding salaries, while it also has to meet some statutory obligations.