Air Zimbabwe rot must be investigated

air Zimbabwe rot must be investigated

Something is definitely not right at Air Zimbabwe Corporation. At independence in April 1980, Air Zimbabwe, formed from the ashes of Air Rhodesia, inherited no less than fourteen (14) fairly new aircraft. Thirty seven (37) years down the line, Air Zimbabwe has been vandalized and ransacked to such an extent that there are only just about four (4) serviceable aircraft that are owned by the national airline.

The MDC is deeply concerned by the continued bleeding of our national pride, Air Zimbabwe Corporation. From having a tradition of caring in the early years soon after independence, Air Zimbabwe has now assumed the dubious distinction of having a tradition of scaring; a sordid and deplorable reputation where flights are routinely delayed and/or cancelled and passengers are forced to travel aboard old, dilapidated and noisy aircraft.

Recent events at Air Zimbabwe literally read like a horror movie story line. One Simba Chikore, the son – in – law of President Robert Mugabe, is virtually in charge of the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, at the moment. The Chief Executive Officer, Captain Ripton Muzenda, has been suspended from employment under extremely shadowy and suspicious circumstances. As if this was not enough, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo is being very edgy and conservative with the actual details and reasons surrounding Captain Muzenda’s suspension from employment. The whole incident smacks of a complete dog’s breakfast.

What the hell is Zimbabwe Airways? Who owns this private airline company? Is the Mugabe family not the actual and beneficial shareholders of Zimbabwe Airways? Recent press reports have disclosed that Zimbabwe Airways has clinched a multi – million dollars deal in terms of which the privately – owned airline will be leasing four long – haul Boeing 777 aircraft from Malaysia Airlines.

This deal stinks to high heavens. At a time when Air Zimbabwe is virtually on its knees and is burdened by a colossal debt of no less than US$300 million, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo and the Air Zimbabwe de facto boss, Simba Chikore, are busy wheeling and dealing on behalf of and for the benefit of a privately – owned airline, Zimbabwe Airways.

There is a serious conflict of interest and gross abuse of the basic tenets of good corporate governance in this whole transaction. Put bluntly, this transaction is blatantly opaque, unjustifiable and downright corrupt. Parliament must immediately move in to get to the bottom of this scandal in our aviation industry. The full details of the Zimbabwe Airways transaction, chapter and verse, have to be disclosed for the benefit of the nation.

Why is Minister Joram Gumbo globe – trotting, at State expenditure, to cut deals on behalf of a privately – owned airline whilst our own national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is almost bankrupt? Whose agenda is Minister Joram Gumbo pushing? And why is the Air Zimbabwe de facto boss, Simba Chikore, consulting on behalf of a competing private airline, Zimbabwe Airways whilst he remains on the payroll of our national airline, Air Zimbabwe? Something is definitely not right here!

The MDC is thoroughly disappointed with the public disclosure that Zimbabwe Airways will soon be flying the highly lucrative Harare – London route whilst Air Zimbabwe remains virtually comatose. In fact, both Minister Joram Gumbo and Simba Chikore have to be thoroughly investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti – Corruption Commission. They have got a prima facie case of high level corruption that both men have got to answer to. We cannot just stand aside and watch whilst an important national asset, Air Zimbabwe Corporation, is being bled into bankruptcy and oblivion in order to privately benefit a few politically well – connected people.

The MDC has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption and as such, we demand that a no– holds–barred and exhaustive forensic audit be immediately instituted into the business affairs of Air Zimbabwe Corporation. More importantly, both Minister Joram Gumbo and Simba Chikore must give the nation a detailed and satisfactory explanation of the exact role that they are playing in the business affairs of a competing private airline, Zimbabwe Airways.

MDC: Equal Opportunities for All
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson

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High Court humiliates Kasukuwere

Kasukuwere humiliated

The decision this week by the High Court of Zimbabwe to nullify the suspension of the Mayor and one other MDC Councilor in Gweru is a welcome development for local government in Zimbabwe.

Initially the Minister of Local Government, Hon Savior Kasukuwere, had suspended the entire Council, including several other Councilors from Zanu PF. He replaced them with a partisan Commission of three persons who then administered Council affairs for nearly two years. During this time the cost to the Council of the Commissions activities exceeded the cost of maintaining the elected Council and included accommodation and transport allowances, a substantial daily fee for their services and other related costs. As an appointed and totally partisan Commission these individuals reported to the Minister and had no elected mandate for doing what they did on behalf of the City and its residents.

The MDC is aware of at least one allocation by the Commission of a contract to a Company linked to a senior staff member from the Ministry. There are probably others of a similar nature. The totally false basis of the Ministers decision in suspending the Council and disrupting the normal administration of the City was first demonstrated by the decision of his own appointed Tribunal to reinstate the majority of the Council in early 2017. However the suspension of two other Councilors, including the Mayor, was confirmed. Now the High Court of Zimbabwe has ruled that there was no basis for either the decision of the Minister or the Tribunal and has restored both men to their posts and ordered that their benefits be paid out to them in full and that the Minister meet the full costs of the action. The cost to the Ministry will be considerable.

Since the MDC took control of the majority of Urban Councils in Zimbabwe in 2000, Zanu PF has abused its control of the Ministry of Local Government in seeking to recover control of the Urban Councils. It has persistently used its now unconstitutional powers under the Urban Councils Act, to suspend and frustrate elected Councils decisions and resolutions. It has stripped Councils of essential revenue sources and cancelled debts owed to Councils without consultation or compensation. As a consequence, the failure of Councils to maintain essential services and to improve the administration of Councils can very largely be attributed to the Ministry of Local Government.

Another clear example of destructive Ministerial interference with Council activity in the past two years has been the hiatus over the appointment of a new Town Clerk in Harare. After the Harare Council found the previous incumbent incompetent and was forced to replace him, the Council identified and recruited a candidate for the position, who was, if anything over qualified. However he indicated that he wanted to serve as Town Clerk to make a contribution to the Country. Despite this and solely because the applicant was not a Zanu PF activist, the Minister over ruled the Council and it was forced to settle with the applicant and ask him to resign his post. Now the same process has been followed in full compliance with Council policy and the requirements of the Urban Councils Act and because the best candidate by a long way is an active MDC leader, the Minister is again refusing the appointment and the MDC has instructed lawyers to take the Minister to Court over the issue.

It was the intention of the authors of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe that elected, democratic Councils should be able to control and manage the affairs of all local authorities without undue interference from Central Government. It was also the clear intention of the Constitution to create autonomous local authorities with considerable powers to raise their own funds and administer the affairs of local authorities in the best interests of the ratepayers and to be accountable to the ratepayers for their activities and performance.

The Ministers actions in the past four years have been unconstitutional in character and damaging to the interests of all Zimbabweans. It is time to put a stop to this nonsense and in 2018, elect a responsible Government that will implement the Constitution and devolution to the Provinces and all local authorities.

E G Cross
Secretary for Local Government

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