Muchechetere Blames Charamba For ZBC Rot

Harare, March 29, 2014 – Suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief executive Happison Muchechetere has sensationally accused Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services George Charamba of playing a central role in the rot at the parastatal by, among other things, imposing unqualified personnel.

The damning allegations are contained in a special audit report where the former ZBC boss was hitting back at criticism levelled against him for the rot at the country’s sole broadcaster.

He made the claims as ZBC yesterday announced its new management team comprising Christopher Chivinge (head of news and current affairs) taking over from Tazzen Mandizvidza, who was reassigned to head of film production, while Josephine Zulu becomes head of radio services.

Muchechetere, who was suspended for allegedly awarding himself and his executive team hefty salary perks while other employees went unpaid for over six months, also blamed government for refusing to pay over $6 million for services rendered.

He was on Thursday quizzed by police over charges of inflating the price of the digital radio outside broadcasting (OB) van equipment acquired from China. He is alleged to have claimed that the equipment cost over $1 million, yet the actual price was slightly over $100 000.

But in the report — titled Addendum to Special Audit Report and Essential Supplementary Audit Issues — seen by NewsDay yesterday, Muchechetere denied the fraud allegations claiming some of the maladministration charges he was being accused of were a result of Charamba’s interference.

He charged that Charamba, who is President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson, had in 2011 ordered ZBC to re-engage Chivinge as one of the line managers.

He also claimed that Charamba once forced ZBC to donate and fund a gala — which fell outside the diarised government national galas — for youths in his rural home in Buhera.

“Mr C Chivinge’s re-engagement in 2011 was imposed by the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information even though the candidate had no requisite qualifications to hold the post to date,” he said.

“The board expressed reservations on the imposed re-engagement culminating in a compulsory interview in which certain conditions were set, but none

 were fulfilled by the candidate.”

 

According to minutes of the recruitment committee chaired by ZBC acting chief executive officer Allan Chiweshe that included suspended general manager (finance) Elliot Kasu on May 27 2011, Chivinge failed to produce copies of his “O” and “A” Level certificates.

 

“Mr Chivinge was asked the issue of qualifications where he indicated that he has 10 ‘O’ Level subjects and 10 points ‘A’ Level. Mr Chivinge was asked to produce copies of certificates, but did not have any,” the minutes read. 

 

In 2006, Chivinge was booted out of ZBC following irregularities regarding a trip to China, but was seconded by the Information ministry to Africa World Television Station in Namibia where he worked as editor-in-chief before bouncing back at ZBC in 2011.

On the Buhera gala, Muchechetere claimed: “ZBC drew money without notice from its company financial resources as contribution following (Charamba’s) demand. This was done at a time the parent ministry knew that ZBC staff was in salary arrears. In addition to the monetary donation, ZBC deployed digital six-camera OB van equipment and digital DSNG (satellite uplink) to provide live coverage of the event at ZBC’s cost on top of the donation.”

ZBC finances were also being drained by several labour cases. 

Muchechetere said whatever happened at the broadcaster was the collective responsibility of senior managers and he castigated his suspension and that of Kasu as a clear sign of targeted victimisation. “The same spared executives (Mandizvidza and Chiweshe, then general manager for radio services) are management members now presiding over the forensic audit consequently making the whole developments or ZBC saga suspect,” he said.

Muchechetere said ZBC’s woes could be traced back to the legislative reforms in 2001 which led to its commercialisation, thus causing the withdrawal of government capital grants. 

He said prior to 2009, ZBC had a block of flats that were disposed of under unclear circumstances.

Charamba was not picking up calls on his mobile phone yesterday, while ZBC spokesperson Gladman Bandama confirmed the new developments saying: “The changes (on Thursday) were made to improve productivity and performance.”

 

 

Newsday