Tendai Mugabe and Nyemudzai Kakore
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation yesterday fired almost 300 employees, including managers and journalists.
ZBCTv reported on its 8 O’clock news bulletin that 282 workers were sent packing with authorities at Pockets Hill saying the process was ongoing, with more employees expected to be sacked while others who had been affected on technicalities might bounce back.
Departments that were heavily affected included news and human resources.
The dismissals were made in terms of the recent Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to sack workers upon giving them three months’ notice.
The dismissals come barely a week after the national broadcaster fired its chief executive Mr Happison Muchechetere and three other senior managers — Mr Elliot Kasu (general manager-finance), Allan Chiweshe (acting radio head) and Mr Ralph Nyambudzi (head-finance).
Among a host of other cost-cutting measures, ZBC shut down its Gweru-based radio station Voice of Zimbabwe and Channel 2 television.
All employees from the canteen department were sent packing as the corporation now preferred to outsource private caterers.
ZBC board chairman Father Gibson Munyoro confirmed the dismissals.
“Redundant structures and activities such as canteen, cleaning among others have been with immediate effect closed and are to be replaced by outsourced services,” he said in a statement.
“The idle Voice of Zimbabwe station in Gweru has also suffered the same fate but work will start in Gweru immediately to put up digitalised studios and a content production house as the digital migration process takes pace.
“Through the digital migration process, ZBC may later recruit some of the employees being pruned from the corporation to take up new roles that require their qualifications and or experiences.”
ZBC corporate communication manager Mr Gladman Bandama added: “All departments have been rationalised. This means that a critical assessment of each department was done in view of its obligations in fulfilling the overall mandate of the ZBC.
“On the basis of this analysis, the most optimum structure was identified that would best deliver these obligations, cognisant of the skills mix required.”
He said the Voice of Zimbabwe had been forced to shut down due to the breakdown of the shortwave transmitter.
According to letters signed by the company’s acting chief executive Mr Patrick Mavhura, the affected employees are no longer allowed to report for duty with immediate effect.
“We write to advise that the employer has decided to exercise its right in terms of the Common Law, and Section 12 (4) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) (Hereinafter referred to as the “Labour Act”) to terminate your contract of employment on notice with immediate effect,” reads part of the letter.
“In this regard, you are hereby given three (3) months notice in terms of the provisions of the Labour Act.
“The employer absolves you from any of your contractual duties during the notice period. Accordingly you shall receive your notice pay whilst you are at home, subject to any existing commitments by way of debts or obligations.”
Some of the affected employees who spoke to the Herald said soon after receiving letters terminating their employment contracts, they were quickly escorted out of the company by armed security.
“It was like a war situation and we were treated like criminals soon after receiving letters terminating our employment contracts,” said one of the employees.
Almost 20 000 people have been dismissed countrywide since the July 17 Supreme Court ruling.