By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, March 19 (The Source) – The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services on Thursday dismissed the state broadcaster, ZBC board from a hearing after it failed to produce a forensic audit report expected to shed light on the goings-on at the parastatal.
The board had been asked to appear before the committee to give an update on the state of affairs at the nation’s only broadcaster.
Chairperson of the board, Gibson Munyoro accompanied by board member, Charity Manyeruke and acting chief executive, Patrick Mavhura told the committee that it was the duty of the information minister (Jonathan Moyo) to table the report to Cabinet before it could be presented to Parliament.
“We don’t have the permission or mandate to publicise those reports (forensic and turnaround) or use them in any fora,” he said.
“In consultation with the minister, we were advised that the minister will present the forensic and turnaround reports, that’s why we did not distribute the report to you.”
Munyoro was appointed to chair the ZBC board in February last year in the aftermath of the suspension of the then chief executive Happison Muchechetere after news broke out that he was receiving $40,000 a month in pay and perks, while other executives drew hefty weekly allowances and had most of their bills paid by the parastatal.
Munyoro said his board had managed to “put out fires that were burning ZBC in 2013,” but this did not impress the members of Parliament who demanded to see the report.
“We are all concerned that you did not bring the forensic report. We indicated in our letter that and we needed to get it from you. We demand that we get the report,” said the committee chairperson, William Dewa (MP Umzingwane).
Other legislators concurred, saying that that the trio should be dismissed and asked to return with the audit report at another date.
“I propose that it is best for them to bring the report and for today we can have a pep talk and reschedule the meeting so they understand that as Parliament we are serious,” said Prosper Mutseyami, another legislator.
The meeting was temporarily suspended while the committee consulted and deliberated on the next move.
When the meeting resumed, Dewa said it was within their mandate to demand the report.
“In terms of the statutes, we decided as a committee not to continue with the deliberations and we are going to write to you requesting documents for oral evidence in the next two weeks,” he said.
Earlier, Munyoro told the committee that the corporation, which was a “sinking ship” at the time his board took over, had accumulated debts worth $54 million but could not restructure or retrench staff as it had no substantive management.
“We have to deal with judicial and labour issues first and we cannot comprehensively implement a new strategy before we deal with labour and legal issues of suspended executives,” he said.
Cases relating to suspended management, including the Muchechetere are still pending before the courts.