The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Airzim Vehicles Seized Over U.S.$140 000 Debt

Photo: Aldo Bidini/Wikipedia
An Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-2N0ER at Singapore Changi Airport.

Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited on Monday had 20 of its vehicles attached by a former manager in settlement of a US$140 000 debt.

The High Court last Friday registered the arbitral award compelling the national airline to pay Mr Stephen Nhuta, a former sales and marketing manager, US$141 790,82, as retrenchment package. Armed with the order for registration of the award, the Deputy Sheriff attached the vehicles.

They were removed from the company premises at the Harare International Airport. Harare lawyer Mr Caleb Mucheche of Matsikidze and Mucheche Law Chambers represented Mr Nhuta.

The vehicles, according to the notice of attachment, comprised eight Mazda 3s and four Mercedes Benz vehicles belonging to the top management.

One Toyota Hilux Vigo, three Mazda B2500s, two Mazda BT50 trucks, one Mazda 626 and a Mazda B1800 truck were also attached.

Arbitrator Mr C Mesikano granted the arbitral award on October 25 2010 and Justice Andrew Mutema registered it on Friday. Airzim marketing and public relations executive Ms Shingai Taruvinga yesterday confirmed the national airline's vehicles had been attached.

"With the support of the shareholder, the airline is on record that it will make good all its creditors including its workers," said Ms Taruvinga.

"However, it is a process and we appreciate the anxiety that it has caused to our staff leading to the attachment of some of the airline's vehicles by the deputy sheriff yesterday (Monday)."

"We continue to implore our staff to bear with the airline while the process is being realised."

Air Zimbabwe emotionally stressed Mr Nhuta during the time of his employment warranting some damages granted in the arbitral award.

On December 2007 Mr Nhuta was appointed to the post of regional manager Africa under the guise of restructuring from the post of sales and marketing manager.

The contract was never honoured until February 17 2009 when Mr Nhuta was recalled to the head office after spending a year in Nairobi.

On his return to the head office, Mr Nhuta was demoted to being the manager sales division based in Harare. On May 22 2009, Mr Nhuta was sent on shift work on half salary.

Mr Nhuta was served with another letter changing his title to Manager GSA and Travel Agents on June 30 2009. A month later Mr Nhuta had his employment terminated, a decision he challenged on August 3 2009.

The airline withdrew the termination and reinstated Mr Nhuta on August 7 2009 before serving him with a notice for retrenchment on August 24.

Retrenchment negotiations reached a deadlock and in 2010 Mr Nhuta returned to work.

It was the arbitrator's finding that Air Zimbabwe violated the code of conduct by withholding the worker's salary and benefits and by inconsistently varying and changing dates and terms of reference of the worker at very short and unreasonable intervals.

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