Sunday 1 October 2023


Media organisations have called for a transparent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) after a senior executive was suspended for allegedly demanding sexual favours from a subordinate.

ZBC director for radio services Robson Mhandu is set to be hauled before a disciplinary hearing this week for allegedly demanding to be intimate with a female employee before he could sanction her transfer from Bulawayo to Harare.

Media Alliance of Zimbabwe programmes manager Nigel Nyamutumbu said there was need to take issues of sexual harassment seriously to stop the vice.

“Reports of sexual harassment in the media are concerning and there's need for thorough investigations on all reported cases,” Nyamutumbu said.

“Studies show that it is rampant yet there seems to be a culture of impunity.

“The media should be a safe space for all and it's time that perpetrators are held accountable.”

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Perfect Hlongwane said the ZBC case was a tip of the iceberg.

“ZUJ notes with a heavy heart reports alleging sexual harassment at the public broadcaster, ZBC wherein a senior management official is implicated,” Hlongwane said.

“The nature of allegations appear to dovetail with observations from a 2014 gender discrimination survey by the union, which among others, noted that some cadet/junior journalists and media practitioners were susceptible to abuse by their counterparts, who were willing to cover for their shortcomings in exchange for sexual favours.”

He said ZUJ took such matters seriously as is evidenced by their campaigns to end sexual harassment in the media industry.

“It is against this background that the union has been and is involved in various campaigns mostly through its gender mainstreaming committee, to weed out this vice or at least mitigate against it,” said Hlongwane.

“ZUJ’s campaigns against sexual harassment also aim to raise awareness on sexual harassment in the newsrooms and from news sources.

 “Further, ZUJ reiterates its calls to stakeholders to put in place sexual harassment policies, which ensure prevention, reporting and investigation of such cases to create a safe and dignified work environment for women media workers.”

The Gender and Media Connect (GMC) called on the national broadcaster to conduct thorough investigations into the sexual harassment allegations.

“Over the years, we have heard of incidents of abuse and harassment in various newsrooms by senior members of staff who have used their positions and authority to threaten members of staff,” GMC said.

“However, these incidents have then been either dismissed or swept under the carpet.

“In this instance, it will be difficult to do so as audio recordings and screenshots of explicit conversations have already gone out into the public domain.”

GMC called on the Zimbabwe Media Commission to promote good practices and ethics in the media while seeing that the complainant mechanism and process is instituted justly. Standard


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