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Minister asks MPs to help ZBC reporters with lunch; he’s told – just pay them well so they buy their own

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By Staff Reporter


“So, please, they can assist in that regard, in providing fuel; not only fuel. There is no harm in even buying them lunch as well because we are trying to manage a situation here Mr. Speaker.”

DEPUTY information minister Kindness Paradza was given short shrift by legislators Tuesday when he curiously asked them to help Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reporters with fuel and lunch.

Paradza was responding to questions by MPs on why the public broadcaster’s reporters always cite the shortage of fuel when asked to cover activities in the provinces.

“Mr. Speaker Sir,” began the minister who is also a former journalist.

“On the issue of fuel, especially ZBC bureau chiefs and the correspondents that are dotted around the country are given an allocation for example, 500 or 600 litres per week or per month or per two weeks; but because of the terrain, because of the distances they cover, sometimes the fuel runs out before they are given another allocation.

“This is why they say sometimes to our Hon. MPs, yes I want to come and cover you but I do not have fuel. I am waiting for fuel because my allocation has run out.”

He added; “I am appealing to Hon. Members to, if they have fuel, give them the fuel so that your areas or activities are covered. We need coverage especially from the rural areas. We need stories from the rural

“So, please, they can assist in that regard, in providing fuel; not only fuel. There is no harm in even buying them lunch as well because we are trying to manage a situation here Mr. Speaker.”

However, opposition Magwegwe constituency MP Anele Ndebele would have none of it, telling the minister that ZBC should pay its staff well enough so they can afford their own lunch.

“On a point of order Mr. Speaker,” said Ndebele.

Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele

“I just wanted to point out that it is not up to the Minister to tell us that he has done justice to the questions that have been raised.

“For instance, I am not happy because he did not speak very well to the question of low morale amongst journalists at ZBC and the poor salaries.

“The fact that he now says we must buy them lunch shows he does not have the energy to boost their salaries at all.”

The MP added; “A good journalist must be able to pay for his own lunch because you will remember the Commission last time raised issues of the brown envelop.

“This is where it begins. The Minister should just boost morale, especially amongst senior journalists at ZBC and salaries as well.”

Paradza was also taken to task over corruption in the media with journalists reportedly demanding payment in return for coverage.

Said the minister, “This is now a cancer within the media industry.

“It is actually sometimes not them (journalists) who are asking for the brown envelops. It is some of our people who have some ulterior motive, they give bribes to our journalists to write positive stories about them or to write something against their opponents.”

However, Norton MP Temba Mliswa said the minister should not make allegations without providing evidence.

“When we talk about these issues, there must be evidence.

“As Parliament, let us have the integrity to discuss issues with facts and evidence because we will not get the integrity and dignity that is expected of us.”

He added; When you say people are corrupt, let us be clear. Let us not just say people are corrupt.

“The Minister must get them arrested. If he knows they are corrupt and they are not arrested, then he is also corrupt. He is adding to corruption.”