Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Former Air Zimbabwe chief operating officer Mr Simba Chikore left the national airline voluntarily to concentrate on helping some indigenous Zimbabweans bring aircraft to fly local, regional and international routes, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said Mr Chikore’s departure from Air Zimbabwe had nothing to do with circumstances leading to the resignation of former President Cde Robert Mugabe as insinuated by some privately owned publications.
Mr Chikore is son-in-law to the former Head of State and Government after he married his daughter, Bona.
In an interview recently, Minister Gumbo said it was unfair for the media to try to link Mr Chikore’s departure at the national airline with the former Head of State and Government’s exit from power.
Minister Gumbo said Mr Chikore and him had been assisting Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company, a firm comprising enterprising Zimbabweans interested in aviation.
He said Mr Chikore had been helping the indigenous firm to secure aircraft that would ply Zimbabwe and other routes, including complementing Air Zimbabwe.
The firm, he said, will take over from where Government had left in courting international airlines.
Minister Gumbo said the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company had since applied for a licence to fly to London, Dubai, the Far East, Nigeria and some long distances within Africa.
“Their plans are also to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil,” he said. “If all goes well, one or two airlines, which are airlines run by our own people, might be in the skies before Christmas.
“So, his departure is mainly linked to his involvement with this firm, which he is merely assisting. He has no shares at all, but using his expertise. What was happening was that Air Zimbabwe was not getting full value from him because of his commitment to this firm and he decided to leave.”
Minister Gumbo said Government will continue exploring ways to assist Air Zimbabwe so that it comes back on its feet.
“Air Zimbabwe itself is ailing, it is not doing very well as we are all aware,” he said. “This is why I requested Cabinet to allow us to go into partnership with any other airline to make sure that we remain in the skies.
“As I speak, the aircraft that we have at Air Zimbabwe are old and cannot fly into Europe. Some are even banned from flying into South Africa because they make a lot of noise, and that is a fact.”