HARARE – Zimbabwe Broadcast Holdings (ZBH) is set to retrench 500 workers and pay outstanding wages.
Presenting oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Media, Publicity, Information and Broadcasting Services, the ministry’s permanent secretary George Charamba told the legislators that the State broadcaster was in the process of adopting a turnaround programme which includes retrenchments.
He told the committee that ZBH employs about 1 000 people and half of them have to be laid off.
“ZBC has 1 000 workers and these are facing problems of getting a monthly salary and they have gone for 5-6 months without getting their salaries,” Charamba said. “We have a debt of $44 million which needs to be serviced.
“We have a situation in which one reporter has 50 supporting staff behind and we need to retrench people and find money to fund the retrenchment programme which we hope government will take over to fund it.”
Charamba told the committee, chaired by William Dewa, that the former Information minister Webster Shamu, was aware of the problems that were affecting ZBH but had decided to delay resolving the matter to allow elections to take place.
“It must be remembered that the issue of ZBH has been of political contestation in the inclusive government and the political fighting took centre stage. Instead of resolving the problems, we wanted to focus on the elections.”
Legislators queried why the former ZBH chief executive Happison Muchechetere was suspended.
“We are carrying out an audit programme and we did not want the senior management to interfere in the investigations as we wanted to find what was happening,” Charamba said.
“We therefore suspended some of the managers but they are still on the payroll.”
He said for this month’s salaries, government was negotiating for an overdraft of $2 million with a local bank to make sure that workers will have money over the festive holiday.