SW Radio Africa (London)

14 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Two Former Air Zimbabwe CEO's Nabbed Over Corruption

Investigations into allegations of graft in parastatals have seen the police arrest the former CEO and acting CEO of Air Zimbabwe on corruption charges.

Peter Chikumba, the national airline boss from 2007 to 2010, and his successor Innocent Mavhunga, were picked up by police in Harare on Thursday. Company secretary Grace Pfumbidzai was nabbed on Wednesday.

The airline has been rocked by the scandal that resulted from its appointment of Navistar Insurance Brokers in 2009 to handle the insurance of its planes.

The insurance transactions are said to have violated the airline's tender regulations. There are claims of premiums being 'fraudulently' overcharged by almost $10 million over a four-year period.

This week Transport Minister Obert Mpofu fired all the boards under his ministry for non-performance. This included the Air Zimbabwe board led by Ozias Bvute. Political observers have noted however that only the 'small fish' have been exposed and arrested in the scandals that have emerged, with the real culprits, like cabinet ministers, still enjoying protection from President Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile there are reports that senior officers in the Zimbabwe National Army are earning as much $10,000 per month in basic salaries, in addition to a range of other perks. Rank and file soldiers earn a monthly average of $370.

Sources in the ZNA Pay and Records Department revealed to The Zimbabwean newspaper that ranks of Lieutenant Colonel and above enjoy hefty perks, and most of them are war veterans.

The lowest paid private soldier earns an average $340 before transport and housing allowances, and the next nine ranks to that of major are separated from each other by a mere $20 a month. The salary difference widens with each senior rank. Generals enjoy salaries in the $5,000-$10,000 range, plus fleets of vehicles.

Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC-T's secretary for intelligence and security, said while it is their wish to see all civil servants and members of the defence forces well remunerated, they were however concerned with ZANU PF's selective handling of the issue by paying huge salaries to the military hierarchy.

As more reports of corruption in parastatals and government institutions are released, the board and management of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is embroiled in a $4 million scandal.

The Financial Gazette reported on Thursday that top management extended to themselves, and other connected private citizens, loans amounting to close to $4 million. Of that amount $2.5 million was given to individuals with political connections while $1.5 million was shared among board members, the agency's managers and other REA staff, which they used to build houses.

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