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Harare to Assume Air Zimbabwe's US$140 Million Debt - Transport Minister

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quotes Transport Minister Nicholas Goche as saying Harare will assume US$113 million in domestic and US$25 million in foreign debt of troubled Air Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean Cabinet has resolved that the Harare government should take over Air Zimbabwe’s debts of US$140 million and seek a strategic partner for the perennially troubled national airline, Transport Minister Nicholas Goche said this week.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Goche as saying the government will take responsibility for US$113 million in domestic debe and US$25 million in foreign debt, some of the latter owed to the International Air Transit Association.

The Herald quoted Goche as saying that the government will not privatize Air Zimbabwe, calling it a strategic asset that must be preserved and supported.

But a strategic partner in Air Zimbabwe will be recruited, he said.

South African-based aviation expert Guy Leitch said however that no investor will come on board to revive the airline if the government maintains control of the carrier. "There is no real justification anymore for airlines to be nationally-owned," Leitch said.

Economist Daniel Ndlela said Harare can retain a majority stake in the airline - but must cede management control if it finds a strategic partner. "This worked well in Kenya where the national airline sold a 30 percent stake to KLM," Ndlela noted.