By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
29 January 2014
A former senior manager at Air Zimbabwe has issued a damning verdict on the failures at the national airline, saying government was aware of the rot for ‘many years’ but turned a blind eye to protect individuals with links to ZANU PF.
He said people should not be fooled in believing government was unaware of the malpractices at the airline as it was always informed of the situation by workers union representatives.
The former manager, who asked not to be identified, said reports that the national carrier failed to resume flights to London last November because of a $3 million outstanding debt for airport, navigation fees and catering expenses just goes to show how badly managed the airline is.
‘Air Zimbabwe has failed to make any headway because the parent ministry allowed the board to hire the wrong people for the top positions. What you got were the wrong people in the top management, also hiring the wrong people for very crucial jobs just because they wanted to safeguard their positions,’ he said.
He said this malpractice saw the airline have excessive layers of management, poor communication between management and employees, expanding too quickly, misjudging the market, inept marketing strategy, underpaying or overpaying some employees and failure to plan for contingencies.
Analysts believe that recruiting the right people for the job and restructuring to downsize on the number of employees will be the first major task of the board following a string of revelations about the gross financial mismanagement at the airline.
This week a financial audit company, hired by new management at Air Zimbabwe, uncovered an insurance scam that netted about $10 million for senior staff.
The report alleges that Air Zim’s company secretary, Grace Pfumbidzayi, authorised fraudulent payments to Navistar Insurance Brokers in a four-year aviation insurance scam.
Pfumbidzayi is alleged to have acted in cahoots with Air Zim’s acting group chief executive officer Innocent Makore and together they are accused of having prejudiced the company of millions of dollars. Other senior staff members have also been implicated.
The money was allegedly paid out to Navistar “for services rendered”, and invoices were provided, but no services were rendered.
The Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development, Munesu Munodawafa, is also alleged to have acted to protect Pfumbidzayi, who is said to be his niece. Munodawafa is not named as a beneficiary of the scam.