BY VENERANDA LANGA
Members of Parliament have questioned ZBC chairperson Josiah Tayi’s credentials, saying he does not have qualifications to lead a media entity.
Tayi is a Gweru-based medical doctor, and is reportedly President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s personal physician.
He appeared before the Prince Dubeko Sibanda-led parliamentary portfolio committee on information to speak on the state of affairs at the public broadcaster.
The board members asked the ZBC board members to talk about their qualifications and work experience.
“I was a Zanla fighter trained in Libya and I studied medicine at the Addis Ababa University,” Tayi responded.
“I run two surgeries in Gweru and I own Midlands’ biggest private hospital. I am also a businessman engaged with the Ministry of Transport in doing roads, and I am also a farmer who does cattle ranching.”
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya then asked Tayi if he was qualified to head a media board since he was a medical practitioner.
Tayi defended himself saying there were previous ZBC board chairpersons that had no experience in the media.
“I knew the issue of qualification would come. History has proven that academic qualifications are not evidence of competence,” he said.
“In 1997, the board was chaired by Tafataona Mahoso, in 2001 by Gideon Gono, a banker, from 2009 to 2013 it was chaired by Cuthbert Dube and before me it was chaired by a priest, Father Gibson Munyoro,” Tayi said.
“I farm, but I do not have a certificate in agriculture and so I do not think that your arguments hold water.”
Parliament also grilled the ZBC board over issues of journalists who turned politicians during elections and contested for parliamentary seats.
The MPs said it was unethical that the journalists who lost Zanu PF internal elections returned to the newsroom.
Uzumba MP Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF) was particularly bitter about the issue and he told Tayi that he was a victim of one such journalist during the 2018 elections.
Mudarikwa then played a recording of a ZBC election programme where the journalist in question who lost to him during the Zanu PF primary elections produced a programme where the MP’s character was questioned.
In the clip, a woman was heard saying that Mudarikwa was not fit to be an MP because he was not married.
“Individuals at ZBC pretend that what they are doing is pro-government and yet it is for their benefit,” Mudarikwa said.
“This has to do with their editorial policy, which is primitive and uncouth. As long as the board does not correct such behaviour, I will not advertise on ZBC, and my companies will not advertise on ZBC because most of your reporters that take part in primary elections are rabid.”
Zanu PF Makonde MP Kindness Paradza said it was not ethical for ZBC to allow the journalists that lost in the party’s primary elections to return to the newsroom.
“If the law does not prohibit journalists from participating in primary elections, then the board cannot be concerned with that,” Tayi said.
But Chikwinya said ZBC cannot hide behind the law, but enforce journalistic ethics.