Whether or not Air Zimbabwe is a national airline or not, is no longer an easy question to address.
Granted, the airline is not Zimbabwe’s only comatose parastatal — there is the National Railways of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to contend with — but Air Zimbabwe is the country flagship and Zimbabwe is seen through its colours wherever it goes.
There is no need to chronicle the many embarrassing episodes of failure displayed by AirZim, but there must come a point where as patriotic Zimbabweans we must say enough is enough.
When the news of an AirZim aircraft being impounded over a debt in London broke out yesterday, I heard someone shouting out an exasperated question: “Hey, does this thing called Air Zimbabwe have a minister who is supposed to run it?”
This indeed should be the question many of us should be asking. Is there still anyone running the affairs of Air Zimbabwe or has it been left to collapse without anyone giving a hoot about the goings-on there?
But is it not criminal to allow the national flagship to go around the world exposing the dismal state of the country’s economy?
We have seen several ministers taking over this portfolio, but it appears everyone of them that took the hot seat left it extremely embarrassed or with their political life on the precipice.
What boggles the mind too, is the failure — total failure — by the special talent that is sent to the parastatal to deal with the rot of their predecessors to do anything to save this ailing giant.
There are doctors, engineers and many other professionals that have taken the helm of the airline, but all of them have ended up appearing like idiots who have no shred of an idea what administration is.
But that is not the truth about these men, some — if not most — of whom were genuine hard workers. What must be found is the real source of the problems bedevilling Air Zimbabwe.
Why do we have pilots that are on perpetual strike, demanding outstanding salaries that are several times what the highest paid pilots in the world get?
How did we come to that situation?
How did we accumulate all the millions in outstanding salaries and allowances for other staff at Air Zimbabwe? Is it not the same way we are going accumulating debts in South Africa and London — debts that, like criminals, make us avoid going anywhere near those countries to prevent getting the airplanes seized?
A solution must be found to the problems at AirZim and this must be an issue that Cabinet must remain seized with — until that airline returns to normal.
Correct and firm decisions — business, economic or political — must be made to save that airline.
We cannot continue having one Transport minister after another coming out to say the country must pump out more money as the solution.
Pouring money down the drain is what it will be to continue taxing the long-suffering citizens of this country in order to save Air Zimbabwe — and its sister parastatals that are tottering on the brink of collapse.