NOW DAILY EDITORIAL
The decision by George Charamba to leak a confidential government memo to the Herald, in violation of the Official Secrets Act, proves what we suspected all along: that the so-called state investigation into the “rot” at ZBC is nothing but a smokescreen.
It is inconceivable that in the middle of an official probe, Charamba can be so treacherous as to publish secret information which has a material impact on the investigation.
The purpose of this leak is to forestall the questions that Charamba, as the bungling secretary for media, information and publicity, would have to answer.
We, the people, are not impressed or even confused by this stunt. If anything, we call upon the relevant portfolio committee of Parliament to investigate Charamba’s role in this mess and also bring media, information and publicity minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Supa Mandiwanzira into the interrogation room.
Last week, Charamba told a Parliamentary committee that suspended ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere was not qualified to head the corporation. When did he discover this? Is it not the job of the permanent secretary to ensure that all parastatals under the ministry’s ambit appoint properly qualified leaders and to ensure that these appointees are properly vetted before they draw millions of dollars out of bankrupt state corporations, as Muchechetere did? And who appoints the ZBC board which makes these high-level appointments? The minister of information, on the advice of the permanent secretary!
We do not have to waste time on this. It is an established fact that Charamba himself personally appoints or approves not only CEOs but department heads and even junior staffers at ZBC, many of whom are Zanu PF members, war veterans, militiamen and women or relatives of party officials. The fact that Muchechetere intimidated him and minister Webster Shamu using his war credentials is hardly an excuse for Charamba’s failure to use the powers vested the secretary for information in the ZBC Act to ensure the parastatal is run professionally.
Muchechetere was appointed by Zanu PF in 2008 to perform the specific task of ridding the ZBC of characters suspected of sympathizing with the MDC, or of refusing to take illegal orders to smear the party. The former CEO, Henry Muradzikwa, former news editor Patrice Makova and many others who had fought hard to provide balanced reporting of the March 2008 election were sacked, accused of causing Mugabe to lose the election by not putting out enough propaganda.
Muchechetere was brought in as a hatchet man whose task was to keep MDC and all negative views of Mugabe out of ZBC broadcasts. Like any mercenary, Muchechetere performed that task exceptionally. The only problem now is how to get rid of Muchechetere after he finished the job. Like any hired killer, the man has become too powerful, he knows too many secrets and must be got rid of, so they frame him.
We are not saying firing Muchechetere is wrong. What is wrong are Charamba and Jonathan Moyo and Supa Mandiwanzira’s motives for wanting to do it now.
Muchechetere, who had earlier taken out a hefty retrenchment package from ZBC, proved to be a major disaster. Under him, ZBC returned to the 1980s levels of propaganda where it became a megaphone for Mugabe and Zanu PF. Of course, that was a major miscalculation. The 2000s are not the 1980s where information could be tightly controlled. In the information age, listeners and viewers and advertisers simply switched off, put up satellite dishes on their buildings or turned to the internet to get the real story about Zimbabwe. Under him, relations with staff soured. Workers went for months without pay while managers gallivanted around the world at the corporation’s expense, blowing up millions of dollars. Muchechetere himself ordered a stop to an investigation into rampant sexual harassment and theft of ZBC equipment, awarding himself and his friends and relatives lucrative production contracts.
Charamba was never heard to raise a finger as the rot, which started way before Muchechetere took over, grew worse. For the permanent secretary to stand up now after more than half a billion dollars has been lost and irreparable damage has been done and say he wrote one memo to the minister on I November 2012 – four years after Muchechetere was appointed – is totally ridiculous. Charamba is as guilty for the destruction of ZBC as Muchechetere, Shamu and Jonathan Moyo.
As the man who was supposed to prevent it from happening he carries more blame.
NOW DAILY EDITORIAL