In a letter addressed to the management of Zimpapers, Zimbabwe’s largest newspaper group and known propaganda arm of the government, journalists from Sunday News, Chronicle, uMthunywa, and B-Metro have expressed their deep concerns regarding the challenging working conditions they face on a daily basis. The letter, signed by a group of reporters, highlights issues related to staffing shortages, inadequate resources, and poor welfare conditions.

The journalists paint a grim picture of their newsrooms, stating that the situation has become increasingly dire with each passing day. Due to staff incapacitation, a handful of reporters are expected to handle the workload of a fully staffed newsroom. Shockingly, one sports reporter has been forced to work seven days a week, clearly demonstrating the staffing crisis at hand. The letter further reveals that students on attachment or correspondence have become the backbone of the newsrooms, a situation that should be the opposite.

Adding to their grievances, the journalists point out that they are required to subsidize the company by using their own personal data, despite receiving meager salaries. This issue has been raised repeatedly to no avail, despite the fact that digital operations and publishing form the core business of Zimpapers.

Furthermore, the deplorable state of the newsrooms is highlighted, with furniture in disrepair and cockroaches infesting the premises. The journalists express their embarrassment when visitors, including high-powered delegations and government dignitaries, come for interviews. It is alleged that during such visits, a façade of improvement is presented, including the temporary removal of broken-down vehicles that reporters are compelled to use for their assignments.

Transportation costs have also become a burden for the journalists, as public transport operators now charge in foreign currency, which the reporters neither earn nor can afford to obtain on the streets. The situation has become so dire that reporters based in Bulawayo have resorted to submitting content from home, as they did during the peak of the Covid-19 era, on the condition that the employer provides them with data.

In light of these challenges, the journalists have decided to formally engage with their Ministry in order to seek the attention of His Excellency on their plight. They remain committed to carrying out their duties but express disappointment at the lack of reciprocation from the employer. With crucial elections just two months away, they emphasize the need for a harmonious working environment.

The journalists question whether Zimpapers’ principal shareholder is aware of the grave situation they face, which further motivates their desire to engage directly with him. They are hopeful that solutions will be urgently provided, even before His Excellency returns to the country.

The journalists’ letter serves as a stark reminder of the difficulties faced by media professionals in Zimbabwe and raises concerns about the ability of Zimpapers to fulfill its role as a reliable and unbiased source of news. The attention drawn to these issues will likely put pressure on the management to address the reporters’ grievances and take immediate action to improve working conditions at the newspaper group.

See The Letter👇

“WE the undersigned and being reporters in Sunday News, Chronicle, uMthunywa and B-Metro write to you to raise issues that affect our daily operations in the newsrooms as well as our grave welfare issues.

On our job execution, the situation is becoming gravely with each passing day as the few of us are expected to perform duties of a fully and well staffed newsroom.

One reporter is expected to do three print stories, three online stories and videos on a daily basis.
The only sports reporter is now working seven days a week, a shocking situation. All this is because of staffing incapacitation.

Students on attachment or correspondence are now the backbone of the newsrooms yet the opposite should entail.

We are also subsidising the company in the form of data, this over our meagre salaries.
The data issue has constantly been raised to no avail yet our core business is Digital and then Publishing.

Our newsrooms are an eyesore to the Brand as huge as Zimpapers, starting with furniture to everything. It’s now a haven of cockroaches, an embarrassment when visitors come through for interviews.

What is appalling is that whenever we have highly powered delegation including Government dignitaries, an all too good situation is presented, including clearing the court yard of broken down vehicles which we are made to use for our assignments.

So dire is the situation that we are no longer managing to meet our transport cost to work as public transport operators are now charging in forex, which we are not earning and which we can’t afford to get from the streets. It is in this regard that we as reporters based here in Bulawayo have met, caucased and resolved to inform your office as we hereby do of our incapacitation to both report to the newsrooms and also perform our duties to the satisfaction of the employer due to archaic and limited resources.

We are prepared to submit our content from home just like the peak of the Covid era, as long as the employer will supply us with data.

We also inform your good office that we have taken a position to formally engage our Ministry for onward engagement with His Excellency on our plight. We remain fully committed to execute our duties but we feel there is lack of reciprocation on the part of the employer, hence this uncomfortable but necessary position we have taken but which we believe is in the best interest of our welfare.

We are two months before crucial elections and one would expect a harmonious working situation yet the opposite is true.

We even wonder if our principal shareholder is aware of our grave situation at all, a further reason we now want to engage with him where we will highlight all these and other challenges that inhibits our work, especially now as we count down to elections.

However, we undertook to first try and find each other internally, thus this memo to your office of which we remain confident that solutions will be proffered urgently even before His
Excellency returns home.

We thank you.”

By Power

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