As Zimbabwe economy continues to melt down, state broadcaster fires almost 300 workers

Trade union says in last few weeks companies have dismissed 18,000 workers.

ZIMBABWE’S state broadcaster has laid off nearly 300 workers as it battles financial woes.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) board of directors has “so far terminated the contracts of some 282 staff members on three months’ notice”, chairman Fidelis Munyoro said in a statement Thursday.

It said the ZBC had decided to streamline certain operations to try to steer the national broadcaster towards “viable business-focused and results-based activities”.

A journalist at the broadcaster, which has been failing to pay staff salaries, confirmed the layoffs.

“We have been told it is ongoing so even those who have not received the letters are not sure whether their jobs are secure or not,” the journalist told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The ZBC joins several companies that have laid off workers after a Supreme Court ruling last month that allowed employers to dismiss workers after giving three months’ notice.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions staged protests in the capital Harare last week over the dismissals.

Police blocked the strike, arresting union leaders and three journalists covering the demonstration but all were released without charge.

Unions say at least 18,000 workers have been dismissed following the court ruling and have vowed to fight the dismissals.

“The ZCTU would like to inform the working people of Zimbabwe and members of the public that it is deeply concerned about sudden, unfair and termination of contracts of employment,” the ZCTU said.

“Thousands of jobs have been lost in the last two weeks,” it said, vowing that it is “not going to let this go unchallenged”

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in a downward spiral for more than a decade following President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms, which broke the country’s agricultural backbone.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this year said Zimbabwe faced a “difficult” economic outlook.

Laws which require locals to hold majority stakes in all firms are also blamed for scaring off foreign investors.

Many companies have closed, downsized or relocated to neighbouring countries.

The southern African nation’s economy has been experiencing slow growth, low liquidity and high unemployment.

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