AIR Zimbabwe workers have accused the airline’s pension fund trustees of not remitting their pension contributions and using $400 million withdrawn from the scheme for fuel purchases, the Z
imbabwe Independent has been told.
According to a report made by Air Zimbabwe’s three workers’ unions to the police, the board has not remitted pension money since September 2003.
“The board of trustees were not submitting pension money deducted from employees’ salaries as from September 2003 to date,” the report said.
“Also of concern is $400 million that Comarton Consultants (Pvt) Ltd reveals was de-invested (by the board).”
It is understood the amount was used to purchase fuel.
Comarton Consultants, an asset management company that handles the airline’s pension fund, held a meeting with Airzim management and workers’ representatives in March to iron out their differences.
Airzim’s former managing director, Rambai Chingwena, who has since left the country, last month faxed a letter of resignation claiming he was in Namibia. Chingwena was chairman of the board of trustees.
Tendai Mujuru is the acting managing director. She also sits on the board of trustees as an employer-appointed nominee.
In 2002, the pension fund, which was transferred from Old Mutual to Comarton Consultants, was worth more than $300 million.
The board told workers’ representatives that the pension fund received 913 000 shares from Old Mutual when the insurance firm demutualised.
At the meeting, Comarton announced that it invested $1,2 billion with Old Mutual Asset Mangers, $1,1 billion in a company only known as GP2, and $950 million with Datvest Pension Management (Pvt) Ltd.
It was revealed in the meeting that Chingwena withdrew $400 million from Datvest.
When the workers quizzed mana-gement why the money was with-drawn, Mujuru said it was withdrawn for the purchase of fuel. Air Zimbabwe buys Jet A1 fuel from BP and Shell.
Comarton, represented by Doreen Mupfumira, produced three notification letters demanding to know why the airline was not remitting contributions.
One worker who attended the meeting said Mujuru refused to answer Mupfumira’s question.
“Mujuru totally refused to answer, while Chingwena refused to attend the meeting saying it was a kangaroo court,” the worker said.
The airline employs about 1 183 workers, some having monthly pension deductions of up to $70 000.
The airline’s legal and corporate affairs manager, Arthur Manase, confirmed Chingwena’s resignation but said it was a personal decision.
“To the best of our knowledge, the decision by Chingwena to resign was purely personal,” Manase said.
He said Chingwena was not under any police investigation and refused to reveal his whereabouts.
In March workers at the ailing parastatal threatened to down tools over the non-remittance of their pension fund contributions.