HARARE – The plight of workers at State broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has been dire for some time. And the situation seems to be getting worse.
Their salaries are being paid in small advances of between $60 to $100, making it well nigh impossible for employees to provide for their families.
To make matters worse, their medical aid has been stopped.
Since their case has gone for so long without remedy, the staff is appealing to the heavens above for divine intervention — through spiritual fasting.
Workers have been sending each other mobile messages to start spiritual fasting today for the next three days.
But officials at the broadcaster seem totally unmoved.
A public relations officer for the organisation said: “If they decide to seek divine intervention, then let them do so, but at their own peril.”
How can appealing for divine intervention constitute a peril?
It is inexcusable that workers should be treated in this way and still be expected to put in a good day’s work on empty stomachs, with hungry children probably not going to school and landlords threatening to evict them. That’s a tall order.
In March, a parliamentary committee on Media, Information, and Communication Technology said there was widespread disgruntlement among staff and that this was compromising the quality of programming at the broadcaster.
This has driven the majority of audiences to watch satellite television.
At that time, the workers had not been paid for two months.
Despite the report, nothing seems to have been done to alleviate the workers’ predicament.
There is no justification for the lethargy because top management is said to be getting obscene salaries and hefty allowances.
Happyson Muchechetere the organisation’s chief executive said then that ZBC had imported new broadcasting equipment worth $6.5m from China under a government-to-government deal.
The equipment also included a new outside broadcasting van.
How can workers be expected to operate such expensive equipment on empty stomachs?
In the past, there have been cases at ZBC where workers paid themselves by using the broadcaster’s equipment in desperation.
This should not be allowed to happen.
The workers are now pinning their hopes on new Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo to save them.
We urge the authorities to expeditiously tackle the problem as workers and families are suffering unnecessarily.
The problem is not insurmountable.