'Mugabe pays Air Zim cash upfront'

HARARE - Frequent flier President Robert Mugabe pays national airline Air Zimbabwe (Air Zim) cash upfront whenever he uses its planes, Transport minister Jorum Gumbo told the Daily News yesterday.

The 93-year-old leader travelled to the United States (US) over the weekend on an Air Zim plane, and according to Gumbo — whose ministry superintends over the ailing airline — “the president is a good customer”.

“Whenever the president is travelling, we charge him the same amount that we charge anyone else. The president is in fact our number one client because that is where we get our money, we only hire when there are problems with our planes and that can be found in different countries,” he said, adding that Mugabe “pays the money even before he leaves the country”.

The deepening rot at the struggling flag carrier was recently said to have triggered serious safety concerns among security chiefs and Zanu PF bigwigs — who were said to be  worried about the safety and security of the hired planes that Mugabe was now regularly using  for his official travels after Air Zim planes were grounded.

The debt-ridden national airline is barely managing to stay afloat, and to keep operating its creaky aircraft — a development which had lately forced, Mugabe, its single biggest customer, to hire private jets from overseas.

This also comes as Air Zim has been banned from flying into Europe over safety concerns — further complicating Mugabe’s frequent travel plans to international destinations which are not covered by the current travel restrictions on him.

However, Gumbo yesterday said the problems cited by EU were being sorted and there are no safety fears when Mugabe is travelling with the planes.

“We had banned our planes, this was after we had applied to resuscitate the London route, when they had applied they were told by the responsible authorities from that side that if you want to ply this route you must meet the conditions.

“When the team came here 12 areas where not conforming to what they wanted, and after some works our team went to Europe and they met 10 out of the 12 conditions that were required, it was discovered that we were manual and not computerised, but before we went to Europe, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe had told us not to fly the planes until we had complied.

“There is no danger with flying Air Zimbabwe, of course there are some few problems but we will sort that out and our planes will be running before end of this month but that does not stop Air Zimbabwe to fly anywhere including America or Europe because he has immunity,” Gumbo told the Daily News.

Air Zim is said to be losing up to $3 million a month, in addition to being saddled with a $300 million declared debt. The extent of the rot devouring Air Zimbabwe was first exposed to the public in March when it was revealed that Mugabe was resorting to hiring private jets for his overseas travels, after it emerged that the poorly-performing national carrier had failed to service its planes.

As a result, Mugabe had to lease a private jet from Bahrain, which he used to travel to Singapore and Ghana then. Mugabe used the same plane during his second trip to Singapore and on his trip to Mexico last month where he was attending a climate conference last week.

Air Zim’s fleet comprises two Boeing 767s, three 737s, three MA60s and two Airbus A320s. However, only four of those are flying: one airbus, one Boeing 767, one 737 and an MA60.

The national carrier has over the past three decades struggled to shake-off claims of corruption and ineptitude, which has led to the dismissals of several of its boards and senior managers.

Comments (6)

Paying for the Air Kombis!!

Mukanya - 6 June 2017

good client when our money is being abused at the expense of the masses. doctor gumbo ndokufunga kwe level ya doctor here?

wezi p - 6 June 2017

Jorum Gumbo you are an idiot.Where do you think this old dictator of yours gets the cash to pay upfront for your air Simba-bwe in this Bona-na republic?From the treasury offcourse when the country is reeling from cash shortages,the government is failing to pay workers in time,unemployment is above 90%,roads have turned into gulleys,Water is unavailable even the dirty water,industries are closing and you boast about the nonagenarian paying cash upfront for his useless trips at the expense of the nation?Shame on you.Shame on your old and cruel dictator,shame on everyone who supports this old and evil dictator.

Janana wa Bikaz - 6 June 2017

Jorum Gumbo you are an idiot.Where do you think this old dictator of yours gets the cash to pay upfront for your air Simba-bwe in this Bona-na republic?From the treasury offcourse when the country is reeling from cash shortages,the government is failing to pay workers in time,unemployment is above 90%,roads have turned into gulleys,Water is unavailable even the dirty water,industries are closing and you boast about the nonagenarian paying cash upfront for his useless trips at the expense of the nation?Shame on you.Shame on your old and cruel dictator,shame on everyone who supports this old and evil dictator.

Janana wa Bikaz - 6 June 2017

Cde Joram its like a father gives his son school fees and says from what you have pay for my beer, yes the father pays cash for his beer but at the son's expense. does the father have any ground to proudly say I pay fees upfront or the headmaster claiming the young pays fees NO. we not as dull as you cde minister. the question is why then is AirZimbabwe in the RED

joram G. - 7 June 2017

...it was discovered that we were manual not computerised..." ..the CAAZ had advised us not to fly the planes until we were compliant..." These two statements speak volumes about people who are paid to do a good, professional job vs the idiots that some among us have entrusted with our future. It's hardly surprising...when stealing property becomes official govt policy the whole world starts to wonder how sane that country's people are.

Sagitarr - 10 June 2017

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