EDITORIAL: Come clean on Zim Airways

EDITORIAL: Come clean on Zim Airways

Source: EDITORIAL: Come clean on Zim Airways | The Financial Gazette April 19, 2018

Zimbabwe last week took delivery of the first of four Boeing 777 planes procured from Malaysia Airlines for $70 million

Zimbabwe last week took delivery of the first of four Boeing 777 planes procured from Malaysia Airlines for $70 million

CONFLICTING statements about Zimbabwe Airways (ZimAirways)’ ownership — and coming out of government corridors — raise questions about President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s commitment to transparency and good governance.

At his inauguration five months ago, the ZANU-PF leader promised that his administration would break from the opaque governance system, which was the hallmark of his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

Seeing that Mnangagwa has been emphasising a governance system based on transparency, democracy and good governance, we sincerely believe this has somehow re-shaped global perception towards Zimbabwe and, thus, influencing the recent American congressmen’s visit — and part of Washington’s re-engagement effort with Harare.

While this positively reflects on the new administration, it gets worrying when the same regime fails the simplest of tests — in dealing with the ZimAirways issue or conundrum — and in the process exhibit worrying traits of the Mugabe culture, if not specialty, of obfuscating issues.

This is exactly what is happening around this publicly funded project and whose source of worry has been further compounded by Transport minister Jorum Gumbo, and his Finance counterpart Patrick Chinamasa’s divergent views, and puzzling attempts to defend an unjustifiable deal.

For their part, the two have — albeit belatedly — stated that the airline was a State company and they had kept the nation in the dark about the $70 million Boeing 777s transaction to “evade sanctions from the West”, and which makes the whole deal suspicious given the other commercial arrangements that Harare has put together recently.

In our view, why would the same Western powers interfere with a $70 million deal instead of blocking the $253 million Kariba power station rehabilitation project, which Zimbabwe has been boasting after China had approved it?

Why was it also not necessary to conceal or cover up the doomed $2 billion Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway project?

In another view, how did government manage to pull off the $400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe/Transnet recapitalisation deal if these so-called Western capitals were always ready to throw spanners into its developmental programmes? As such, something is simply not adding up here.
While Gumbo had always maintained the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company was a private entity, we believe Zimbabweans deserve to know at what point this problematic venture became a public venture.
Essentially, people would want to know who these private investors are given Simba Chikore’s prominent involvement, the minister’s own alleged disclosures that he was even prepared to register the planes using Mugabe’s initials and whether this alleged takeover was ratified by Parliament?

As such, these are some of the lingering questions and inconsistencies that have prompted us to ask Mnangagwa, and his administration to come clean on this murky deal — and in line with his new thrust for transparency.

Mnangagwa cannot preach transparency during the day and somehow tolerate abuses at night, as transparency is the only thing that will guarantee a clean break from Mugabe’s toxic policies and rebuilding of the nation following decades of misrule.