Harare - Zimbabwe's state broadcaster has debts of more than $44m and has failed to pay its workers for the past six months, the government said Thursday, a month after it sacked the operator's entire top management.
"We are talking about a debt of $44,586,493," George Charamba, the permanent secretary in the information ministry told a parliamentary committee on media.
The financial woes of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) have been blamed primarily on poor revenue inflows.
The government last month dissolved the entire ZBC board and sent its top managers, including the chief executive officer, on forced leave.
Charamba said the top management was removed to pave the way for an audit to identify if the broadcaster's woes were due to "governance failure, malfeasance or simply misaligned business decisions."
With a monthly revenue of $1.0m, ZBC has a monthly salary bill of $1.4m for its 1 000 workers and incurs $2.3m in operating expenses each month, said Charamba.
The broadcaster, infamous for recycling old programmes and movies, has in recent years battled to attract advertising or convince viewers and listeners to pay their licence fees.
Charamba, who also is President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson, said the ZBC had no choice but to improve and "ensure it is producing a service that makes the viewer want to pay."
"Essentially we are facing a crisis of journalism standards," he said. ZBC is the sole television broadcaster, and operates one TV station and four radio stations.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change of former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has repeatedly accused ZBC of biased reporting in favour of Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.