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Air Zimbabwe crisis deepens

The board is chaired by farmer-cum- businessman Jonathan Kadzura and its term of office ends in August.

Standardbusiness understands that at one time board members contemplated resigning en masse but chickened out fearing a backlash from government.

What has irked the board is that a senior transport ministry official had allegedly become a de-facto executive chairman of the airline making decisions without consulting the board.

“He has made sure he does not consult the board. Honestly, how can you have a ministry official entering into an agreement with striking pilots without the involvement of either the board or management?” asked one board member.

“What he is saying is that we are irrelevant so we have decided to wait until our term of office expires then leave the airline for good.”

Transport ministry permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri’s mobile phone was unavailable while Kadzura’s phone went unanswered on Friday.

In January, Mbiriri allegedly struck an agreement with the striking pilots to resume work after they had downed tools.

The board recommended that the pilots be fired since the strike was illegal but the resolution was overruled by the ministry.

The January agreement could not be honoured by the ministry triggering another industrial action in March by the pilots which grounded the airline.
The ministry intervened again after it availed US$3,8 million to pay salaries and buy fuel among other expenses.

In 2009, Transport and Communication minister Nicholas Goche promised to rectify the problem.

While the board and the ministry are poles apart, the airline is deteriorating by the day. Air Zimbabwe has over the years degenerated into a museum of mismanagement attributed to government interference.

Analysts say government has to move out of the airline to stop the financial haemorrhage.

 

Board blames government

Board members said on Friday the decline at the airline could be attributed to government which made sure that AirZim had no competition.
Despite opening up the skies, government continued to stop airlines that wanted to compete with AirZim.

Fly Kumba was denied permission to fly the Harare-Johannesburg route because it would compete with AirZim.

AirZim’s decline comes at a time when airlines flying into Zimbabwe have increased frequencies citing growing passenger volumes.

South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Zambezi have all enjoyed flying into Zimbabwe due to increased passenger volumes.

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