CIVIL Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chairman Professor Hasu Patel and chief executive officer David Chawota have reportedly defied a High Court order to restore the operating licence of a local charter and aircraft maintenance company, Executive Air, and now face being sent to prison.
The CAAZ executives also reportedly declined to restore professional licences for the companyâ€™s pilots, Rodney Springer and Caroline Puzey, and that of William Hurell, an aviation engineer.
Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent reveal that the CAAZ revoked the licences without following provisions of the Administrative Justice Act, which makes it mandatory for the authority to launch an investigation seeking to determine the revocation.
The CAAZ suspended Springerâ€™s licence on August 30, Hurrellâ€™s on September 11 and that of Puzey at a date not given in November 2007.
Executive Airâ€™s Approved Maintenance Organisation and Air Operatorâ€™s Certificate was suspended on November 14 2007.
The charter company then approached the High Court against the suspensions and Justice Ann-Marie Gorowa handed down a default judgement against CAAZ on January 8 this year. She ruled that the suspensions were unlawful and set them aside, but CAAZ did not comply with the order.
Executive Air again approached the High Court and pleaded with it to find CAAZ in contempt of court. Judge President Justice Rita Makarau granted the plea last week on July 9.
“The respondents (CAAZ, Patel and Chawota) are to purge their contempt and restore all the suspended licences within four days of being each served with this order failing which the 2nd (Patel) and the 3rd (Chawota) respondents are hereby committed to prison and there to remain until the order of this court is complied with or is set aside,” ordered Makarau.
The order, according to Executive Air, was not complied with, but CAAZ had tried and failed to have the ruling of Gorowa rescinded.
Efforts to get comment from CAAZ spokesperson Nanette Silikhuni were in vain as she was reportedly engaged in a meeting at the time of going to print.
However, Patel yesterday insisted that the matter was resolved.
“The matter is sorted out, donâ€™t worry about it,” he said.
By Bernard Mpofu