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Air Zimbabwe resuscitation scandal explodes

by Staff reporter
07 Jul 2021 at 10:55hrs | Views
EFFORTS to resuscitate the troubled national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe (AirZim), are effectively dead in the water after the exposition by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) of a systematic plot to frustrate its revival involving senior government officials and players in the dog-eat-dog aviation industry, fresh details show. is reliably informed that the OPC early this year instituted an investigation into the affairs of AirZim following reports of underhand dealings by senior officials from the Transport Ministry, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) and the parastatal's axed administrator, Reggie Saruchera, who are now being accused of deliberately finishing off the airline.

Government and AirZim sources said the OPC got involved after reports were made to the effect that Saruchera had been roped in by ministry and CAAZ officials to promote the interests of a competing private entity, Fastjet Zimbabwe Limited (Fastjet) at AirZim's expense.

The OPC investigation, as reported recently by, resulted in Saruchera – the founder and managing partner at Grant Thornton – being kicked out of the troubled airline following a fruitless three-year administration tenure.

He was being accused of failing to turn around the fortunes of the airline despite receiving huge amounts of cash for its revival. The OPC ordered him to leave office by June 30 this year.

Sources said skeletons came tumbling out of the cupboards after CAAZ, in conjunction with ministry officials, blocked AirZim from hiring Kenyan captains to train its pilots on how to operate two Brazil-made Embraer jets which were acquired in 2018.

In return, CAAZ was supposed to authorise Fastjet to ply the routes that had been marketed by AirZim, a move which sources said could have been the final nail in the national carrier's coffin.

But after the deal failed, sources said, Fastjet angrily pulled out its trainers, leaving AirZim stranded.

A source close to developments said it was CAAZ which recommended that Fastjet was better placed to train the AirZim pilots.

Interestingly, sources further said, some former CAAZ executives are now employed by Fastjet.

"There is a strong believe in the aviation sector that Fastjet has now captured the powers that be at Ministry of Transport as well as CAAZ. They are now acting like they are the national airline and are working with some corrupt people at the Ministry and CAAZ to frustrate the resurgence of Air Zimbabwe," a source said.

"Air Zimbabwe had initially identified some Kenyan captains to train its pilots to operate their Embraer aircrafts. Basically, because the Embraer aircraft is new in the Air Zimbabwe fleet, pilots have to go through a conversation programme. They need experienced training captains to do the line training. CAAZ then suspiciously suggested that Fastjet could do the training instead," the source added.

"Fastjet offered their training pilots, hence the Embraer started plying domestic routes and had targeted the Johannesburg route to commence on the 16th of June. Air Zimbabwe proceeded to market the route. The Air Zimbabwe pilots were due to check out by the 25th of June. Then suddenly Fastjet withdrew their training captains claiming that they now need them.

"This was very deliberate so as to incapacitate the national airline. What is sad though is the seemingly deliberate connivance by various players to push for the demise of the national airline. Fastjet is getting all the support and prominence at the expense of Air Zimbabwe to the extent that efforts by the administrator (Saruchera) are seen as disingenuous. He is doing more harm than good. He decimated the airline, and it now remains with hardly any functional system left," the source said.

Another government source said: "Aviation should be under the purview of the Airforce but it's like they are non-existent. This is happening under the noses of the CIO (Central Intelligence Office) at the airport and it explains why the OPC had to intervene."

Responding to email inquiries by, FastJet's said its relationship with CAAZ was professional.

"Fastjet maintains a professional relationship with all stakeholders and the aviation authority in Zimbabwe. Our route network is designed to provide safe and reliable connectivity for customers within the country and linking to the South African hub of OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, " Fastjet said.

The company also said its captains were training AirZim pilots in their individual capacities.

"FastJet is aware that some of the airline's training pilots, in their independent capacity as accredited trainers, have extended support to the Air Zimbabwe Embraer Training Programme. It is further understood that all parties agreed that this was an independent short-term arrangement between the training pilots and Air Zimbabwe, which has now concluded," it said.

CAAZ spokesperson Anna Hungwe maintained they had nothing to do with training of Air Zimbabwe pilots.

"We are not into training.  We are the regulators," she said tersely.

Efforts to contact Air Zimbabwe were fruitless as its spokesperson Firstme Vitori's number was not reachable.

Saruchera could also not be reached for comment as his number was unavailable while text messages to it were not responded to.

Transport minister Felix Mhona was neither answering calls not responding to messages.

Source - newzimbabwe