Gumbo also had $4 380 travel expenses to Malaysia, on Zim Airways business, paid for by ZINARA.
“The point was that Zim Airways did not have money. You could not then get money from Air Zimbabwe because they were strained and they could not pay because it was now like two separate accounts or entities — Air Zimbabwe on its own, Zim Airways on its own.
“But then how do you go to Malaysia and do Government business, we needed money to go there. What we then did at the ministry was then to say let’s look at a parastatal that can fund the trip so that’s is how we did it. ZINARA was the only place where we could get money, but still it was Government business.”
When Simba Chikore, son-in-law to former President Robert Mugabe, landed a top job at national airline Air Zimbabwe, not even the most credulous could not smell a whiff of nepotism. Gumbo dutifully defended the appointment.
“Chikore is the new chief operating officer of Air Zimbabwe. We advertised the job and the response was good. I have been given the results of the hiring process by the board chairman and there were seven candidates and he came tops all round.
“It was done by experts and his experience as a pilot for Air Zimbabwe and in Qatar, as well as his training in the US prevailed. He was just too good because the guy who came second was way below him in terms of points. I’m aware that some people will raise eyebrows, but from the results I think he deserves the job and as minister, I accept the appointment,” Gumbo said, adding:
“It does not mean that the President’s relatives, his children or anyone associated with him cannot be employed in Zimbabwe. I’m a relative of the President but does that mean I’m not supposed to be minister?”
“I hope people will not spread lies of favouritism because he truly deserves the job. He was interviewed by both outsiders and the Air Zimbabwe team,” Gumbo said.
Chikore was to last only a year at Air Zimbabwe, during which time he eclipsed hapless chief executive Ripton Muzenda.
Chikore then moved on to drive the murky Zimbabwe Airways project.
When an airline blogger posted images of a Boeing 777 emblazoned ‘Zimbabwe Airways’ late June 2017, speculation ran wild, but the consensus quickly emerged that Air Zimbabwe was finally shedding its troubled past and rebranding.
Not so, Gumbo said.
The planes had nothing to do with government. Or the Mugabes. The aircraft had been purchased by unnamed private, non-resident Zimbabwean investors.
“This has nothing to do with government; we have no good books to attract partnerships. All we are doing is to assist them,” Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent in November 2017.
“This has nothing to do with President Mugabe or government. I told them (unnamed investors) we had initiated talks with several airlines so they just adopted my idea and we took them to Malaysia, which had shown interest. They clinched the deal and as minister I am only facilitating, just like I am doing on the roads.”
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