It has come to light that one of the contributing factors to the departure of Adelaide Chikurungu, former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), was her alleged acquisition of a Starlink internet kit for the state broadcaster. This move raised eyebrows as it contradicted the government’s stance that the use of Starlink is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Starlink, a satellite internet service provided by the American aerospace company SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, has not been licensed in Zimbabwe. Recent events have highlighted the illegal use of Starlink, with a Chinese firm facing charges for utilizing the service unlawfully.

Images surfaced online depicting a ZBC outside broadcast van equipped with a Starlink kit, despite initial attempts to deny the state broadcaster’s involvement with the service. It has now been revealed that one of the reasons for Chikurungu’s involvement in a disciplinary hearing was related to this kit.

Chikurungu resigned shortly after being suspended, amidst a series of humiliating actions taken by ZBC, including the confiscation of her service car and cell phones. She was also instructed to refrain from entering ZBC premises and using her work email to facilitate a smooth investigation process.

In a bid to avoid the disciplinary hearing, Chikurungu stepped down from her position. Among the charges she faced was the allegation that she oversaw the purchase of the Starlink internet device from Neville Mutsvangwa, the son of former Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

Previously, ZBC utilized Live View and Aviworth internet services for live streaming in areas with poor connectivity from local mobile network operators. However, due to contractual issues with these providers, ZBC opted for Starlink as an interim solution.

The ZBC board expressed concerns that Chikurungu’s actions exposed the national broadcaster to significant security risks by engaging with a company whose data policies were not well-understood by local authorities. Additionally, the purchase of an unregistered Starlink kit was viewed as a violation of the law and posed reputational risks to ZBC.

Chikurungu was also accused of compelling ZBC to pay $150,000 annually to Azam TV, a satellite TV provider launched by Monica Mutsvangwa, without producing any content for the channel carried by Azam.

Furthermore, Chikurungu faced allegations of failing to adequately prepare for the coverage of the previous year’s elections, as well as questionable financial practices, including the purchase of awards using ZBC funds.

These revelations underscore a series of challenges and controversies surrounding Chikurungu’s tenure at ZBC, prompting investigations into various aspects of her leadership and management practices.