FORMER Transport and Communications permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke who was reassigned last week to head the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), could have been pushed out after serious cla
shes with his boss, minister Christopher Mushowe, over how to run Air Zimbabwe.
Speculation is rife that the feud could have stemmed from the Tsholotsho debacle to which Mushowe was linked. During the succession struggle last year Mushowe was linked to the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction while Kaseke backed the Joice Mujuru camp.
However, sources say Kaseke’s reassignment could have been instigated by continuous clashes with Mushowe over the operations of AirZim. A source said although the two have been at loggerheads for some time the last straw for Kaseke was Air Zimbabwe’s bungled launch of its Dubai route. A source said the two also clashed over appointments to the new Air Zimbabwe board.
The airline recently suffered heavy losses after it flew one passenger from Dubai to Harare. Mushowe, who sources say has become the airline’s de facto chief executive, sanctioned the route. It is understood that a row erupted after Kaseke discovered that Mushowe ordered Air Zimbbwe to fly the route without consulting the board.
Kaseke had not been informed of the Dubai route while the board was only told three days before the maiden flight. “The board only knew about the route on Thurday when the trip was due on Monday,” sources said.
“Mushowe all this time was issuing instructions directly to Tendayi Mahachi (Air Zimbabwe CEO),” the sources said. Routes are normally decided by the management and approved by the board. A route usually takes more than six months of planning to launch but the Dubai route was imposed on Air Zimbabwe a month before it started.
“We were caught between Kaseke and Mushowe,” the source said. “On the one hand we had Minister Mushowe, who knows nothing about aviation, barking instructions and on the other we had Kaseke with aviation experience also giving instructions.”
The two also clashed over the appointment of the new board at the airline. It is understood that the Air Zimbabwe board announced last week was different from the one Mushowe had agreed with Kaseke and other senior ministry officials.
Sources say the initial shortlist of board members, which was imposed by Mushowe, included deputy RBZ governor Nicholas Ncube who was supposed to be the chairman. Other members were hotelier Shingi Munyeza, Homelink chairman Herbert Nkala, and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe chairman Charles Samuriwo, a pilot by profession. Retired Colonel Christian Katsande was also supposed to be on the board.
Mushowe and Kaseke denied that there was any rift between them. Kaseke said he had a “good working relationship with my minister” while Mushowe described it as “cordial”. Kaseke also denied he had been pushed out but said he heard about the feud from “rumours”.
“I have been reassigned and I will do my best in the new job,” he said.
However, before his move to ZTA Kaseke had once described the Dubai trip as disastrous saying he was unhappy with Air Zimbabwe’s management. He lambasted AirZim saying they were “flying off course” and management was “mediocre”.
In a separate interview, Mushowe denied that he had imposed the Dubai route on Airzim.
“How can I do that, it’s impossible? But those who are saying that I was not seeing eye-to-eye with Comrade Kaseke are lying. They are jealous,” he said. “I am one of the best performing ministers. I have flown to China, isn’t that an achievement?” he said.