By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
31 March 2014
The presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who is also Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, has been accused of interference and causing the chaotic mess plaguing the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), according to the NewsDay newspaper.
The allegations were made by the suspended ZBC chief executive Happison Muchechetere, in a special audit report seen by NewsDay, in which he accused Charamba of imposing unqualified staff and ordering other activities that were costly, without following proper procedures.
Muchechetere, who had so far shouldered the blame for the mismanagement and corruption at ZBC, lost his post over allegations that he awarded himself and senior staff hefty salaries, while others went unpaid for over six months. NewsDay said he defended himself against this criticism in the audit, pointing to Charamba instead.
In a week that that he would rather forget, Muchechetere was also interrogated by police over allegations that he had inflated the price of an outside broadcasting van from China to $1 million, when the actual cost was just over $100,000. The shamed CEO reportedly denied this and again pointed to “Charamba’s interference” as the reason for much of the “maladministration” at ZBC.
The current Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who fired Muchechetere and other board members, ridiculed him over the OB van affair earlier this month when he addressed the Bulawayo Press Club. Referring to exorbitant salaries at ZBC, Moyo said the staff had lined their pockets while failing to discharge their duties.
“We have people who claim to have bought an OB Van and they want to pretend that they bought it from Mars and only they know how much it cost. And we know that an OB van is just a Kombi,” Moyo said as the Press Club roared with laughter.
Muchechetere fingered Charamba last week as ZBC announced a new management team, which includes Josephine Zulu as head of radio services and Christopher Chivinge as head of news and current affairs. Chivinge, known to be a good friend of Charamba’s, is ironically one of the “unqualified” officials that Muchechetere claims the Presidential spokesperson imposed at ZBC in 2011.
According to Newsday, Muchechetere claims that Charamba had ordered ZBC to “re-engage” Chivinge as one of the line managers back in 2011 even though he was not qualified for the job.
The ZBC board reportedly expressed reservations over Charamba’s directive, then forced Chivinge to attend a compulsory interview where he failed to produce copies of his “O” and “A” Level certificates. Chivinge is also said to have failed to meet several other conditions set by the recruitment committee.
It turns out Chivinge was fired from the ZBC in 2006 following some irregularities regarding a trip he made to China. NewsDay said he was sent to the Africa World Television Station in Namibia by the Information ministry, serving there as editor-in-chief before returning to ZBC in 2011, on Charamba’s orders.
With Muchechetere facing a police investigation over the OB van, the ZBC saga is bound to continue. But some observers say no arrests are likely to be made, as all the culprits who run parastatals and government institutions are ZANU PF members and officials.