By Thato Mochone and Jonga Kandemiiri
The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) on Wednesday fired close to 300 workers, including journalists, and shut down its Gweru offices in the Midlands province that house the Voice of Zimbabwe Radio Station.
Some of the affected employees, who did not want to go on record, told VOA Studio 7 they were issued with letters of dismissal and told to return all company equipment.
ZBC acting chief executive, Patrick Mavhura, declined to comment.
Sources said a somber and gloomy mood engulfed the ZBC headquarters as some fired employees openly wept. Other news organizations, including the Newsday, Daily News, Chronicle and the Herald have also fired dozens of employees and reporters in the past few days, taking advantage of a Supreme Court ruling that made it easier for employers to terminate workers’ contracts.
To date, labor unions say about 20, 000 employees have lost their jobs in the past four weeks.
MISA-Zimbabwe director, Nhlanhla Ngwenya, said he regretted the mass firing of journalists.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police also deployed anti-riot officers at the Harare offices of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in a move believed to be linked to the organization’s bid to lead workers onto the streets to protest continuing job losses in the country.
ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo, said the union is disturbed by the move.
Moyo said they were surprised to find three truck-loads of heavily-armed anti-riot police details parked at the entrance to their building Wednesday morning.
He noted that the government is trying to intimidate ZCTU members and tenants who use the building as well.
The police on Saturday violently scuttled a ZCTU demonstration against continuing job losses.
Studio 7 failed to get a comment from police spokesperson Senoir Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba.
But Moyo said they have instructed their lawyers to approach the courts seeking the removal of the anti-riot officers from their premises.