The Zimbabwean government has received one of its planes operated by Zimbabwe Airways under the control of former president Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore.
One of the Boeing 777, which touched down at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on Wednesday morning from the Far East, was purchased by the state after Air Zimbabwe approached the State Procurement Board in 2016 to seek authority for the purchase of four second-hand planes from Malaysia.
In a statement, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government through the Ministry of Finance took a decision to secure funding for the procurement of the four planes together with eight Embraer aircrafts which were supposed to be used as feeder planes.
“To date, Government has arranged funding to procure 2 Boeing 777 planes and one Ambraer plane under a Special Purpose Vehicle called the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company. The 2 Boeing 777 planes will be delivered on Wednesday, 11 March 2018.
“Government also took a decision to lease the planes to third parties up to such a time as Air Zimbabwe develops a credible business plan to run the planes on a sustainable profitable basis. Accordingly, government decided to lease the planes to a new aircraft firm called Zimbabwe Airways which has already put in place credible plans for the said planes.”
Some of the people linked to this deal are Kudzai Mushonga and a Jerry Haas said to be aviation experts. They were not available for comment.
The recalling of the planes follows concerns by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the planes, which are government property, were being run without state accountability.
Early this month Mnangagwa urged government ministers to recall the planes for transparency purposes.
The Boeing 777 which landed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport has an inscription “Z-RGM” at the back. Observers say that stands for Zimbabwe – Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Air Zimbabwe is saddled with debts amounting to millions of dollars. Some of its planes were once impounded by creditors in South Africa and Britain.