By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
02 April 2014
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation board has overruled a management reshuffle announced by chief executive Allan Chiweshe last week.
In reversing the reshuffle, the ZBC board said it was not consulted.
A statement issued by board chairman Father Gibson Munyoro advising “people to go back to their usual roles”, said the reshuffle was done “without prior consultation or the advice and approval of the board itself.”
“Accordingly, any movements or changes to take place within the national broadcaster shall be presented to the board for consideration and strategic discernment before being announced and effected,” Munyoro said in a statement quoted by various media houses on Wednesday.
ZBC acting chief executive Chiweshe announced the changes last week, which he said were part of a restructuring exercise at the beleaguered state broadcaster.
Another ZBC top official, Gladman Bandama, told the media that the reshuffle targeted systems in need of improvement, ahead of results of a forensic audit.
Auditors were called in after the media highlighted how senior managers such as the sacked Happison Muchechetere were drawing scandalous salaries of up to $44,000 while the broadcaster’s rank and file had gone for months without wages.
The results of the probe are not yet out, and the board said allowing the changes to go ahead before the results of the audit are known will be counterproductive.
Chiweshe’s reshuffle would have seen news and current affairs general manager Tazzen Mandizvidza moving to the helm of productions and television services.
Head of radio services Christopher Chivhinge and head of news and current affairs Josephine Zulu would have swapped roles under Chiweshe’s plan.
Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira told the NewsDay that his ministry works through the board, and if the reshuffle has been rescinded, it means it had been handled unprocedurally.
In February, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo withdrew the appointment of Dr Dennis Magaya as head of the ZBC board chair for his alleged involvement in salary and procurement scandals at national power utility, ZESA.
Moyo reversed Magaya’s appointment in less than 42 hours after the media highlighted his muddy past at ZESA, raising concern that the appointments were being done haphazardly without due processes being followed.
Efforts to contact Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Mandiwanzira about the latest confusion at the ZBC failed as their phones were not being answered.
But Barnabas Thondhlana, editor of the Observer newspaper, said it was unlikely that Chiweshe would have made the changes without consulting the board.
“Chiweshe fully knows that the ZBC at the moment is a hot potato and would not have made these changes unilaterally. He must have consulted the board, but that the board did not communicate these changes to the ministry.”
“The ZBC as we all know is a political animal and so the ZANU PF-controlled information ministry always wants to ensure that those appointed to the top are people who can respond positively to political instruction,” Thondhlana said.
He said the board was likely ordered to reverse Chiweshe’s reshuffle because the ministry was not happy with certain people taking over strategic portfolios.
“Maybe the ministry already has its own individuals earmarked for these posts. You will recall that last month all managers were ordered to reapply, and so this could be part of a process getting rid of some people and bringing in new faces.
“With ZANU PF embroiled in factionalism over who will succeed Mugabe, the rivals will want to ensure that their own people are occupying key positions at the state broadcaster,” Thondhlana added.
Information Minister Moyo is believed to a strong ally of ZANU PF stalwart Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is pitted against the party’s vice president Joice Mujuru in the race to succeed an ailing Mugabe.
The parent ministry last month directed managers at the state broadcaster to reapply for their positions as it moves to trim a 46-strong management contingent.
The top officials are accused of haemorrhaging the country’s sole broadcaster of millions of dollars in hefty salaries. A few months ago the State announced that it had adopted the ZBC’s $40 million debt, effectively transferring it to the taxpayer.