Jonathan Moyo 'killed' ZBC: Machakaire

HARARE - Veteran broadcaster Tapfuma Machakaire has described political flip flopper and former minister of Information Jonathan Moyo as the major cause of the crumbling of once-vibrant state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

In his new memoir entitled A Nose for News launched at the Bulawayo Press Club on Friday, Machakaire said Moyo’s reshuffling of staff and his firm hand on the media led to the demise of the broadcaster.

“Drastic changes at ZBC resulted in unbudgeted costs in terms of relocated fees and hotel accommodation.

The minister had discouraged advertisers on the main news, claiming that some banks that were advertising on ZTV were influencing programme content,” Machakaire, a former senior ZBC employee and now a freelance journalist said.

“Forced by serious financial challenges, the board decided to retrench 450 workers where each department had to compile a list of persons deemed to be excess baggage,” he said.

Machakaire, who is one of the finest journalists ever to emerge in Zimbabwe, said Moyo forced journalists to throw ethics out of the window. “Jonathan Moyo killed ZBC and he wanted me to bend my principles.

But I urge journalists never to be used by politicians. Journalists should base their reporting on fairness, balance and truthfulness,” Machakaire said.

The former Toringepi anchor alleges that his bitter rivalry with the minister led to his transfer from Montrose Studios in Bulawayo to Harare’s Pockets Hill in 2001 as a reporter, which according to Machakaire was a demotion. “It was a way of getting me out of the way,” Machakaire said.

In the memoir, Machakaire makes stunning revelations of his clashes with Moyo at a Smart Partnership Dialogue Summit in Malaysia in November 2000 when the then minister accused him of ignorance.

As a result of the feud, Moyo used his ministerial powers to file stories to ZBC in the process disregarding Machakaire’s post as a seasoned journalist who had travelled with the president for years.

Moyo’s time at the information ministry resulted in the use of harsh media and security laws to arrest journalists and close down newspapers. ZBC has been in shambles since Moyo’s time.

Recently, the National Social Security Authority moved to confiscate ZBC’s vehicles over $700 000 which the state broadcaster owes the workers’ social protection institution in employees’ pension contributions since 2009.

It is also apparent that ZBC is in serious problems as it was ordered to pay Zimbabwe Music Rights Association $600 000 for musicians’ royalties dating back to 2009. Machakaire’s memoir was produced as part of a programme by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe chapter called Journalists in Residence which gives veteran journalists the chance to chronicle their experiences in the journalism fraternity. - Nyasha Chingono

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