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ZBC chief executive officer faces forensic investigation

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THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and its chief executive Adelaide Chikunguru are facing a forensic investigation amid allegations of financial mismanagement, poor corporate governance practices and her reportedly unprocedural employment at the captured state-owned broadcaster.

BRENNA MATENDERE

ZBC is a public broadcaster, but operates like a Zanu PF propaganda mouthpiece.

Pressure from the newly-appointed board led by Helliate Rushwaya, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece, and the ministry of Information is building up for Chikunguru to shape up or ship out over several issues, including how she was employed there in the first place, ZBC sources say.

The sources said Rushwaya and Chikunguru do not see eye to eye.

“ZBC and its boss Chikunguru are currently facing a forensic audit. This has been triggered by poor corporate governance and financial mismanagement matters that need to be thoroughly investigated,” a ZBC source said.

“Besides, there are also issues about how the CEO (Chikunguru) got that job. The way the Dr Josaya Tayi-led board handled the matter was unprofessional and problematic. She was employed on basis of psychometric tests done by LoriMak Recruitment which were not accompanied by an actual job-specific interview, CV scrutiny and background check. This was a board decision, supported by former Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

“As you may know, there are two main elements to psychometric tests: personality tests and aptitude tests. Personality tests explore one’s interests, values and motivations, analysing how your character fits with the role and organisation. They analyse your emotions, behaviours and relationships in a variety of situations.

“Aptitude tests assess one’s reasoning or cognitive ability, determining whether you have got the right skillset for a role. Administered under exam conditions, you are often given one minute to answer each multiple choice question. One’s intelligence levels are compared to a standard, meaning that you must achieve a certain score to pass. This works better when combined with CV screening, a job-specific interview and reference checks.

“Chikunguru came second to Tazzen Mandizvidza, but she got the job in the end because she had board and ministerial support.

“What happened is that sometime in April 2020, the ZBC board seconded Rushwaya, one of its non-executive directors, to be acting chief executive, taking over from Wisdom Hombarume who was also acting for the previous six months, while they looked for a new substantive replacement. Rushwaya, who is the new board chair, acted until Chikunguru was appointed in June 2021, but she was also interested in the job on a substantive basis. However, the board asked Rushwaya to withdraw from the interviews and allow Chikunguru to come in. Mutsvangwa supported that.”

Contacted for comment, Chikunguru declined to talk, accusing The NewsHawks of previously publishing negative stories about her. 

“I don’t think this is correct. NewsHawks has already done a similar story which is on Twitter which has gone viral. You have already damaged me,” she said.

“I am not going to make any comment to The NewsHawks because you have written negative stories about me which are very damaging.”

This came as Chikunguru was reeling from internal complaints that she placed an advertorial in a local daily on Monday for US$600 without approval. ZBC insiders said she did not follow laid down advertising requisition and invoicing procedures, while her statement was not cleared by the board.

As a result, ZBC wants her to pay for the advertorial run by the local daily from her own pocket. The advertorial, regarding “ongoing unsubstantiated media reports”, dealt with a number of issues, including how the Tayi-led board was removed last week.

She said the board was not fired, but its term had expired in August 2023, before it was extended to December 2023, paving way for the appointment of a new one in January 2024.

She added the Tayi-led board, which gave her the job, was not incompetent as widely reported, but was battling with bad legacy issues, particularly corporate governance failures and abuses between 2015 and 2018.

The advertorial addressed a number of media stories written about ZBC of late.

Besides, the statement updates the public on the suspension of ZBC Morning Live Show co-presenters Farai Juliet Magada and Victoria Manase for recycling an old myth and lie that 19th century Ndebele Nation King Lobengula Khumalo sold the country for sugar to imperial Britain when he fought invading colonial forces in well-documented and historic battles more than anyone else at the time.

Chikunguru said the presenters have now apologised to ZBC and the public for peddling the fiction on national television. Thus, disciplinary proceedings against them are underway, she added.

Rushwaya was last week appointed with Mnangagwa’s approval as the new ZBC board chair in a merry-go-round of nepotistic appointments.

She is Mnangagwa’s niece and is also related to Martin Rushwaya, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet.

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