HomeNewsAccusations, counter accusations at AirZim fraud trial

Accusations, counter accusations at AirZim fraud trial

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FORMER Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura yesterday said the board recommended an audit that unearthed the scam in which the airline’s bosses allegedly swindled the airline of ₤5 175 593 and over $2 million.

PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Kadzura, who was testifying before Harare regional magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni in the trial of former chief executive officer Peter Chikumba and company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi, said the action was taken after the board realised that the executives had a scheme through which they siphoned money through hefty salaries and allowances.

He said it was then discovered that they had recommended Navistar Insurance Brokers without going to tender arguing that they needed to avert a crisis since airplanes were not insured and risked being impounded in foreign countries before the conclusion of the tender process.

Led by prosecutor Daniel Muchimbiri, he said the then Transport minister Nicholas Goche authorised the waiver through a letter to that effect.

AirZim acting chief executive officer Edmund Makona told the court the airline’s ex–boss Chikumba acted in an unprocedural manner when he consented to the awarding of a tender to Navistar without seeking approval from the State Procement Board (SPB).

Makona claimed Chikumba was responsible for awarding the tender as confirmed in a letter in which the brokers thanked him in his “personal capacity” for their appointment, an assertion that was challenged by Chikumba’s lawyer Admire Rubaya.

Rubaya said Chikumba did not give Pfumbidzayi instructions to award the tender, but simply sought her opinion on the contract proposed by Navistar.

He also told the court that there was no paper trail to show that the SPB had approved the development.

Makona, however, admitted during cross-examination that there was no documentary evidence to show that Chikumba appointed Navistar as alleged.

Pfumbidzayi, who is represented by Andrew Muvirimi, is also denying that she acted contrary to her duties.

Allegations are that in 2013, the AirZim board of directors queried the amount of money paid to Navistar by the airline in respect of aviation insurance premiums for the period between April 2009 and April 2013.

The board then appointed BCA Forensic Audit who established that on March 18 2009, Chikumba and Pfumbidzai allegedly corruptly abused their duty as public officers by appointing Navistar without going to tender and terminated the services of the existing insurer who was providing the same service.

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