By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
03 January 2013
Morale at the ZBC is reportedly still low despite the government chipping in to pay the owed salaries as part of its pledge to bail out the scandal hit state broadcaster.
Reports this week quoted a ZBC statement saying the workers would start receiving their salaries this Thursday. Officials from the ministry of information were said to have visited the ZBC to take identification and bank details of employees.
The development comes after a government audit found that ZBC owes its workers about $ 8 million and that there were almost 400 ghost workers on the pay roll.
At the time of the revelations the government also lashed out at the astronomical wages of top management staff and promised to take over the payment of owed salaries.
But ZBC sources Friday told SW Radio Africa that the morale was still low as the government is staggering the salary payments. The government, which continues to struggle to pay its 230 000 civil servants on time, can ill-afford the ZBC venture where some employees have gone for up to eight months without being paid.
Sources at Pockets Hill said the workers were demanding that the government should sell the properties of former senior management staff which they say were acquired fraudulently through unjustifiably high allowances and salaries.
In early December ZBC Chief Executive Happison Muchechetere was forced into leave as it emerged that his wage bill was about $ 40 000 a month-an amount which can pay up to 65 journalists.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa confirmed Friday that many ZBC employees were still unhappy despite having been paid and were still considering taking up jobs elsewhere.
He added that the company was still operating with skeletal staff and a lot of time was being spent in meetings to identify bona fide employees. Muchemwa said it was evident that the government was failing ‘to walk the talk’ and fulfill its promises to completely weed out corruption and pay the owed salaries.
Reports this week also said a restructuring exercise is already underway and more top managers including General Manager for News and Current Affairs Tarzan Mandizvidza could soon be out.
Only last month secretary for information and presidential spokesman George Charamba told the parliamentary portfolio committee on information that at least 500 workers at ZBC would be retrenched as part of the restructuring exercise.