The policy flip-flop around Air Zimbabwe (AirZim)’s proposed merger with its equally controversial peer Zimbabwe Airways (ZimAirways) has once again exposed the ineptitude of those superintending this key process.

air zimbabwe

Barely three weeks after Transport minister Joram Gumbo had said plans were underway to amalgamate the two airlines, his Justice counterpart Ziyambi Ziyambi announced in a government gazette that the former was to be liquidated under Zimbabwe’s State-indebted and reconstruction laws.

And to compound Zimbabweans, and the market’s anxiety about the fate of this delicate process, government has bestowed this crucial assignment into the hands of people like Angeline Karonga — Gumbo’s legal advisor and a director of National Handling Services, National Railways of Zimbabwe and ZimAirways, among other struggling internal parastatals.

In her new role, the controversial bureaucrat will serve as Airzim Holdings’ assistant administrator.

While Gumbo and Ziyambi were not readily available for comment yesterday, observers feel the appointments do not inspire much confident in so far as bringing a quick solution to the AirZim-ZimAirways conundrum was concerned.

“Despite the obvious questions that this brings, it’s shocking why the minister has chosen to keep faith in the same team and characters, whose chequered history, and record is widely known in this country. There is absolutely nothing that’s thriving under their watch,” they said.

“If the current somersaults are indicative of their aptitude, then l am not too sure if the same faces – who have been implicated in all sorts of misconduct, including the supply of goods to departmental companies – can deliver a ‘seamless’ merger. By the way, these are the same ‘advisors’ behind failed projects such as Geiger International’s $1 billion road deal.”

While Gumbo’s rationale for pushing for a merger was for AirZim to fly local and regional routes, and ZimAirways to ply international destinations, critics are sceptical about the calibre of people tasked with piloting this key process and other technical issues.

Despite splashing nearly $40 million on two Boeing 777s from Malaysian Airlines in October 2016, the planes are yet to fly in Zimbabwe — with one of the long-haul jets delivered in the country recently returning to Kuala Lumpur “for technical repairs”.

The planes were acquired under the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company for use by other airlines, including AirZim and ZimAirways.

And critics say, the choices of Karonga and others also “flies in the face of an AirZim turnaround strategy document, which also emphasises on depth, realistic outcomes and a responsive organisational culture”.

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