Gift Phiri, News Editor 7 March 2017
HARARE – As the Zimbabwe rot continues unabated, President Robert Mugabe
has been forced to hire a private jet for his recent overseas travels.
This comes after the poorly-performing national carrier, Air Zimbabwe,
failed to complete the servicing of its planes, which Mugabe uses, and
which are undergoing mandatory maintenance checks.
The Daily News learnt yesterday that Mugabe is currently leasing a private
jet from Bahrain, which he used to travel to Singapore last week for his
medical check-up, as well as for his trip to Ghana yesterday, where he was
among dignitaries at the West African country’s 60th independence
Transport minister Joram Gumbo yesterday confirmed the less than ideal
situation, while also moving to underplay the gravity of the situation.
“Our planes are on mandatory inspection. They are grounded and cannot do
long-haul trips,” Gumbo told the Daily News.
“But there is nothing unusual here. We normally hire from South Africa
whenever there is a need. Yes, the one you are talking about, we hired it
from Bahrain. We do it every time. I don’t know why it’s news,” he
Air Zim’s old 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 debt-ridden flag carrier, which is said to be losing up to $3 million
a month, is saddled with a $300 million declared debt.
The national carrier has also 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.