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Auditors probe Air Zimbabwe

Itai Dzamara

THE Ministry of Transport and Communications has appointed auditors to look into the financial position of Air Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

ONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The audit will cover Air Zimbabwe’s deal with a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) airline in 2002, which collapsed last year.

Air Zimbabwe’s legal and corporate affairs manager, Arthur Manase, confirmed last week that auditors had been called in to assess the national airline’s deal with LAC airline of the DRC.

“Air Zimbabwe and the DRC airline, LAC, entered a joint venture which was later discontinued,” said Manase.

“It is however critical that the proceeds of the joint venture be assessed with a view to sharing losses and profits equitably. It is for this specific reason that a firm of auditors was appointed,” he said.

Manase dismissed fears of serious financial problems at the national airline.

“Please be assured that Air Zimbabwe’s own portfolio is in perfect shape and is as per business tradition subjected to six-month audits. Be assured that it has always come out of these audits with a clean bill of health,” he said.

The Independent has established that KPMG, a Harare-based auditing firm, started auditing the national airline’s books two weeks ago.

Sources revealed the audit would also focus on allegations by workers that management had not been remitting medical aid and pension funds for several months without explaining how moneys deducted from employees’ salaries were used.

Air Zimbabwe management is understood to have admitted failure to solve a long-standing wage dispute with workers, citing “a precarious financial status”.

Manase couldn’t shed any further light on the joint venture with the DRC airline but sources at Air Zimbabwe said the national airline had lost out due to its depleted fleet. The deal was meant to have Air Zimbabwe and LAC go into a partnership that involved sharing routes and other facilities under the auspices of the International Air Travel Association.

But Air Zimbabwe, struggling with a fleet of only five planes, didn’t benefit from the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Air Zimbabwe passengers booked on flight UM 725 from London to Harare last Saturday were delayed for six hours at Gatwick Airport.

The plane, an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200, was scheduled to leave Gatwick at 7pm but developed technical problems. Spares to fix the problem were eventually obtained from Heathrow and the plane managed to leave for Harare at 1am on Sunday.

Passengers on the flight said Air Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena was among those stranded.

Efforts to speak to Chingwena were unsuccessful this week.

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