Chikumba, who left after four years at the helm, said the fact that the airline itself was still flying should be regarded as a success in the wake of multiple challenges besetting the national carrier.
“I feel that while there were challenges that beset the company not in isolation but as a country and to a great extent as a continent, there is something to be said about success and that is a fact that today, we still have an airline flying,” he told Standardbusiness on Tuesday last week.
Chikumba left the airline last month after he and the airline agreed to part ways.
He said his exit from the airline “is a decision I made not to renew my contract.”
“I take pride in the fact that I have set the record for being the first chief executive officer to complete a full term in office and Zimbabweans should feel good and obliged when time comes to pass on from the Moses generation to the Joshua generation,” he said.
In the Bible, Moses took the Israelites from Egypt into the desert and Joshua made sure that they reached Canaan.
Since independence, the airline has had nine bosses and eight of them were fired, pushed out or “resigned to pursue other businesses”.
“Looking ahead, I am confident that Zimbabwe still has committed people who can now take AirZim out of the desert into the Promised Land.”
Chikumba has in the past said the airline was like a patient in the intensive care unit who needs to be taken first into a ward and then discharged.
While Chikumba is convinced he did his best at the airline, workers and board members feel otherwise.
“Even if he wanted to renew the contract there was no way the board would accept that as Chikumba had failed in his mandate to run the airline,” a board member said on Thursday.
A National Airways Workers’ Union representative said on Thursday: “We are very happy with his departure. It was long overdue; the shareholder should have taken this route long back.”
They said despite leading prayers at meetings his actions were nowhere near godliness.
To justify his strong words, the representative cited the AirZim labour unrests, saying when 409 people were served with retrenchment notices last year, 18 of them died of stress.
He said survivors and their families suffered as they had been robbed of breadwinners.
The workers are also not happy with organisations that gave excellence awards when the company was deteriorating under his influence.
“The damage that man brought to the company will take long to cure,” said another union leader.
Chikumba said there was need for objectivity in measuring his success or failure at the airline.
“As for judging success I think the other three perspectives—customers, shareholders and internal players—would be the best as long as such judgement is professional and we can all benefit from,” Chikumba said.
The workers said Chikumba treated them like his little children, making them whisper things he would have told them in meetings into each other’s ears.
They alleged that he would for example announce the date of salary payments in a meeting and order them to whisper the date into each other’s ears.
Chikumba said he had told workers at his farewell meeting that “life does not begin and end at AirZim and we should never be in the habit of burning bridges”.