AIR Zimbabwe (AirZim) acting chief executive officer Joseph Makonise left the airline in a surprise top-chair reshuffle this week, according to an internal communication obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent.
Makonise was immediately replaced by Tafadzwa Zaza, a senior manager at the airline, who also came in in an acting capacity from November 23.
Zaza at one time headed AirZim’s passenger and cargo division.
However, he changed roles after chartered accountants Grant Thornton were appointed administrators in 2017 to begin a futile reconstruction effort that ended without a clear roadmap about how to pay US$300 million in debts.
The reshuffle was announced by the airline’s acting human resources manager Penelope Mandeya to staff on Wednesday.
“This serves to advise all members of staff that the Air Zimbabwe interim board has appointed Mr Tafadzwa Zaza as acting chief executive officer for Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited with effect from 23rd of November, 2021 until further notice,” Mandeya said in a memo.
“As management and staff, we wish Mr Tafadzwa Zaza all the best and we are all encouraged to give him all the support needed in the execution of this new role,” read the memo, which shocked most of the airline’s staff members.
Mandeya did not disclose why Makonise was leaving the airline.
But in an interview with the Independent, AirZim acting interim board chairperson Andrew Bvumbe said the outgoing executive had agreed with Grant Thornton, to take an exit package when it was wrapping up the airline’s reconstruction.
Bvumbe said the airline was currently hunting for a substantive CEO.
“At the time of the completion of the reconstruction of the national airline, the acting CEO agreed to an exit package with the administrator,” Bvumbe told the Independent yesterday.
“We have implemented the agreement. We are seized with the process of recruiting a substantive CEO for the national airline.”
The Bvumbe-led six-member interim board was appointed by Transport minister Felix Mhona in July after Grant Thornton’s assignment ended on June 30.
But it was a unique reconstruction process, which left the airline without a substantive board, executive management, CEO and leaving key positions at the airline occupied in acting capacities.