THE Information Ministry has started paying up backdated salaries at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in yet another headache for the country's cash-strapped government. Still battling to find the cash for a promised doubling of salaries for the 230,000 civil service, the government can ill-afford the ZBC bail-out after Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa lamented the size of the State wage bill in his budget statement last month. Chinamasa said the government's employment costs amounted to 75 percent of the total revenue budget adding this was unsustainable and should be reduced to 30 percent by 2018. Workers at the insolvent public broadcaster have not been paid for up to six months but an official confirmed Thursday that the parent ministry had started paying out the back-dated salary bill. "I confirm that some officers from the Ministry of Media , Information and Broadcasting Services were here today (Wednesday) and were taking identification and bank details of employees," ZBC spokesman Gladman Dandama said. Staffers from the parent ministry were said to be at the corporation's main Pockets Hill base vetting employees following reports that the broadcaster had up to 400 ghost workers on its payroll. "As you are aware there have been media reports that there are some ghost workers being paid. So we are working with the ministry to ensure that this is eliminated and only real staff members are paid," said Dandama. "So the staff members were asked to physically produce their identification particulars and also provide bank details before appending their signature to the list of workers being compiled." Information minister Jonathan Moyo was forced to dismiss the entire ZBC board and send the chief executive home on forced leave after they failed to come up with a turnaround strategy for the corporation. Moyo's deputy Supa Mandiwanzira later revealed that the government would pick up the tab for the unpaid salaries as well as takeover the corporation's debt of more than $40 million . It was also revealed that the sacked CEO was taking home a package of up to $40,000 from a company whose monthly revenues top US$275,000 per month against a budget of US$2,3 million of which US$1,6 million should go to salaries. Meanwhile efforts are reportedly underway to re-organise the company's top-heavy management structure with former General Manager News and Current Affairs Tarzan Mandizvidza being the first target. Mandizvidza, sources at Pockets Hill said, is no longer general manager but just head of the news department as Editor-in-Chief as the company dismantles a structure that had left the corporation with dozens of managers, all of them entitled to massive perks. "This is part of the restructuring which the government is doing in order to bring sanity at ZBC," said an official in the human resources department who asked not to be named fearing victimisation. "These positions like what Mandizvidza was holding had a lot of incentives and perks which were costing the company at the expense of the struggling workers," said the source. "Other strange titles in the news department which are going to be looked at include that of the Manager News bulletin held by John Gambanga, Manager online News, (Moses Charedzera), Manager Reporters ( Charles Kawadza ) as well as Current Affairs and Research Manager ( Clifford Mfiri )."
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