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Written by a former ABC Africa Correspondent, Ginny Stein:
For the past seven years "D" has worked out of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, first alongside me, then a succession of other correspondents. Together we’d moved the bureau there from Johannesburg in 2013.
[Having been made redundant from the ABC] He is going home, to Zimbabwe as it is once again spiralling downwards into economic oblivion and insecurity, but this time, amidst a global pandemic.
Last year a number of former Africa correspondents including myself made representations to the ABC asking it to think carefully about its duty of care, and its treatment of him and his family considering the state of his country.
It did. It has covered its eyes and its arse.
“We have met all our legal obligations,” he was told.
Perhaps that is technically true.
The ABC’s HR department is full of lawyers.
But there was a time when the ABC believed in more than that, when it understood duty of care.
“D” is being made redundant, with no pension and a pittance of a payout based on a paltry wage.
It is unlikely it will keep his family housed and fed for anything longer than a few months. He can forget working again in his chosen profession.
As for finding any job, in a country with massive unemployment, he has more chance of striking gold, that he does of securing paid employment.
That is the reality facing “D’ and his family.
His treatment should be a lesson to all ABC employees about duty of care and where the ABC stands on it.
The ABC publicly campaigns about diversity but treats unwanted locally-engaged employees with disdain and lack of care.
“D” is not the first locally engaged employee to have been cast adrift without a pension, or in one case of which I am aware, without even a redundancy payout.
For those in management involved in his redundancy, who offered him weasel words of care and concern as you cut him and his family adrift with a pittance: Shame on you.
“D” when you turn off the light switch, don’t look back.
But please know, there are many of us who care about you and will remain ever so proud to have worked alongside you.
Now...I want you to...know a bit about “D” and who he is, and his country.
Imagine this. We are standing next to a tiny yellow car, of dubious condition and heritage.
The “Daffodil” as we named it, was once bright yellow, but it’s days of glory are long gone, along with two of its four forward gears.
It is parked next to a rondavel, a typical African hut, outside of Mutare, in the hill country of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
We are in a bush resort, which also once glittered, but it has now been over-run by diamond dealers, and henchmen loyal to the country’s dictator. It’s owner, a known opposition supporter, lives nervously in a house on a hill overlooking the resort he built.
“D” and I have chosen to stay here, hidden in plain sight as we investigate a story about atrocities being committed in the diamond fields.
Right now, we are debating whether to walk into the bar for dinner.
With night falling, and no electricity in our rondavels, it was certainly a much more interesting prospect than simply hiding out of sight.
First things first, we need to concoct a cover story, but we can’t stop laughing; at ourselves, at where we are, and at what we are doing.
Who would be silly enough to be here right now? And in a get-away car most likely to be in need a push for a jump start, than being able to make haste under its own steam.
This is just one of the many adventures, I was fortunate to have with “D” over the decades. He is one of the bravest, funniest, and quite simply most wonderfully warm human being I know and who I am fortunate to call my friend.