AIR Zimbabwe which has been in a financial crisis for the past eight years has approached the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Zimbabwe Allied Bankin
g Group (ZABG) for funds to replace its ageing fleet.
Air Zimbabwe board chairman, Mike Bimha, told a parliamentary committee on Transport and Communication this week the company has been having difficulties finding financial partners to renew its fleets.
He said foreign funders have also not been forthcoming. Bimha said the new plan was now to work with CBZ and ZABG.
“We (Air Zimbabwe) are in talks with CBZ and ZABG over a possible funding,” said Bimha. “We have had a number of meetings and are confident something will come up. There are other financial institutions which we have lined up but I cannot say anything for now,” Bimha said.
Bimha said the national airline need about US$100 million and $500 billion from shareholders to revive its operations.
Air Zimbabwe chief executive, Peter Chikumba, said off-shore banks were not interested in funding the project because of the airline’s poor creditworthiness. He however said plans were underway to enter into strategic partnerships with airlines in Africa and Europe to improve operations.
“We have had no less than four meetings with Reserve Bank governor over the airline’s critical foreign currency requirements. At the moment we are not in a position to say if anything has materialised,” he said.
Meanwhile the Air Zimbabwe board failed to explain what had happened to former acting Air Zimbabwe chief executive, Captain Oscar Madombwe.
Last month businessdigest revealed that Madombwe had been pushed out after he presented a negative technical report discouraging government and Air Zimbabwe from buying planes from Russia.
Bimha said Madombwe was on leave, but his fate would be decided “soon”.
Committee members were not convinced by Bimha’s explanations and announced that the committee had set up a four-member commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding Madombwe’s fate as they felt something was amiss.
Committee chairman Leo Mugabe said: “We have appointed a four-member commission of enquiry. In fact the committee is not happy with the whole issue of human resources at Air Zimbabwe.
“We will need to engage the former chairman of your human resources committee, Luxon Zembe, to help us,” Mugabe said.
Bimha said after having been acting CEO for a period, Madombwe was asked to revert to his previous posting at the airline’s subsidiary National Handling Services as managing director. Bimha said Madombwe had refused the offer because he felt the new position would not offer him new challenges.
Captain Madombwe was one of the three short-listed candidates for the Air Zimbabwe CEO. The others were Chikumba and Nkosinathi Sibanda.
Bimha said both candidates were all capable of getting the job but Chikumba got the job because of his international exposure because he had worked for Air Namibia and the International Air Transport Association.
“The minister approved Chikumba and we asked Madombwe if he wanted to go back to his previous post as managing director of National Handling Services but he said having been there before, and having been to the top of the airline, the position offered him offered no challenges.”