17 June 2019

Zimbabwe: Chinamasa Appointment Above Board - President

Photo: The Herald
Zanu-PF's Patrick Chinamasa.

President Mnangagwa has said the appointment of Cde Patrick Chinamasa as Air Zimbabwe board chairman is above board.

In an interview with Capitalk 100.4FM last Friday, President Mnangagwa said he was alive to the fact that Air Zimbabwe was under administration.

Mr Reggie Saruchera of Grant Thornton is the administrator since October last year, after Government issued General Notice 758/2018, which placed Air Zimbabwe under administration.

Some legal practitioners have been insinuating that the appointment of Cde Chinamasa as Air Zimbabwe board chairman last week, was offside since management of the national flag carrier was "thrust in the hands" of Mr Saruchera.

But President Mnangagwa said both the administrator and board have their duties clearly spelt in terms of the law.

"That's not a problem (Air Zimbabwe being under administration); the board is a board of Air Zimbabwe," said President Mnangagwa. "The administrator, who is doing reconstruction, has a period which he has been given. I am not ignorant of that. So, I know where we are going, the board must be there.

"Those who get frightened because we have put people who are going to drive things, it's their own fault. So, there is no conflict at all. The board has its duties spelt out, the administrator has his duties or her duties spelt out. Let him do his duty and let the board do their duty."

Air Zimbabwe has already recorded a number of milestones in its bid to get back to yesteryear glory, with the recent acquisition of an Embraer ERJ 145 sparking hopes of recovery.

The Embraer is set to be deployed on domestic and regional routes, while two long haul aircraft, the Boeing 777-200ERs acquired from Malaysia, are expected anytime from now.

Government has already paid for two B777s which should be delivered in the next few weeks.

Training programmes for pilots and engineers earmarked to operate the planes have started.

Payments for two other B777s have begun, with US$5 million having been paid recently.

Air Zimbabwe is also working on acquiring some narrow-bodied aircraft, Boeing 737s.

The revival of Air Zimbabwe is also expected to help the country's bid to widen trade with other countries, and also boost tourism.

Tourism is on an upward trajectory, with arrivals hitting almost 2,6 million last year, representing a 6 percent jump from the year earlier.

The tourism sector is a low-hanging fruit that is expected to help Zimbabwe in its quest to attain an upper middle income status under Vision 2030.

Air Zimbabwe officials say once the two B777s have been delivered, they will be deployed to service critical routes such as Harare-London and Harare-Beijing, which have a larger concentration of Zimbabweans.

The airline used to service these routes at its peak.

The move is expected to give them as a "sense of pride".

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