Govt downplays ‘embarrassing’ Xi airport glitch


GOVERNMENT yesterday played down Wednesday’s embarrassing mechanical glitch which delayed visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flight take-off at Harare International Airport, saying such incidents were common worldwide.


Xi’s flight had a 15-minute take-off delay after a towable passenger staircase got stuck to his chartered Air China Boeing 747-400 plane as he was about to fly to South Africa for the sixth Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit.

The staircase is owned and operated by the National Handling Services (NHS).

“It’s just one of the springs that got stuck and it happens. There is nothing unique in that,” Transport minister Joram Gumbo said.


“It’s like a person coughing and that cannot be a big issue at all. That can happen everywhere like in the United Kingdom and America and other many countries. There is no issue to worry about though it shouldn’t happen. It’s a machine and anything can happen, therefore it had to be pushed.”

NHS general manager Godknows Maravanyika said the glitch would not, in any way, affect his company’s reputation.

“Yes, the equipment failed, but it’s normal. Once it fails, we have to follow procedure and use manual evacuation. These are technical issues that happen at any airport,” Maravanyika said.

“The equipment is not obsolete. It is still in good condition and it is the same equipment that we use for the VIP flights. It’s mechanical and I don’t think that will affect our reputation.”

However, opposition parties said such embarrassments tainted the country’s image.

“Obviously, that was an exceedingly embarrassing diplomatic gaffe. President Xi Jinping is the world’s second most powerful politician after President Barack Obama of the United States. It was a complete disgrace for him to be subjected to such a degrading and humiliating experience,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Jacob Mafume of the People’s Democratic Party accused Mugabe of keeping incompetent officials in government positions.

“It’s not a surprise. We are a country with no shame and we have seen our President being pushed up podiums because he is old.
The machines are probably as old as the President has been in power, hence are no longer in use anywhere in the world,” he said.


  1. I don’t think this opposition wl take us anyway. noise abt a tech glitch. why do they pretend no to follow that historic visit. deals signed don’t matter to them. But that glitch matters most. A whole spokesperson of a party comments on such useless things. A newspaper writes a story. oh shame.

  2. Technical glitches happen all the time. However, the issue of standards has manifested itself here.

    A lot of Chinese-made products are sub-standard, unless they are produced under a brand name e.g. Sony or Philips. Sony & Philips engineers design and manage the quality control aspects, the Chinese provide cheap labour so that Sony & Philips maximise their profits, that’s capitalism.

    it is the duty of all responsible managers to take responsibility and ensure malfunction/fault incidences are reduced, investigated and managed to ensure safety is guaranteed (the Sony or Philips way).

    It is not inspiring though, for officials to treat a mechanical fault as something trivial, maybe this is because they are not engineers or technicians (I’ll call this the the Chinese way).

    By treating a malfunction as trivial, the NHS GM and Minister have relegated design, quality control and maintenance & safety issues to low priority. This type of “leadership” is lacking in vision and limits our chances of ever becoming an industrial giant. No wonder everything around us is falling apart. It’s just a spring! my ass. No wonder we are not friendly with high quality engineering countries of the west or Japan or South Korea. We have “leadership” with very low or no standards at all. Is it a surprise that basic urban needs like clean running water, water-reticulation and power now appear like a luxury – because we’re doing things THE CHINESE WAY

  3. Politicians politicians you a different lot always looking for political mileage but you are a crazy lot but its cool because if theMDC were in government the ruining party would have done the same hunhu wacho kungofanana kunga wahwindi

  4. xi commands the second largest economy in the world which makes him the second most important person for the world economy after obama therefore anything close to him should not misbehave be it a machine or what for it will be seen as a security threat.remember zimbabwes security agents were in charge of xi making everything around xi a government responsibility

  5. The opposition is quite correct in criticizing this incident coz I dont see any Chinese president paying us another visit in this century again

  6. This proves how idiotic our opposition is. That is why anything they promise the people is not taken seriously, how many American, CHINESE, EUROPEAN machines have malfunctioned. The only problem here is that the opposition politicians’s brains are permanently malfunctioning that they clutch for straws just to blame the government. There are far far more important issues to tackle the government on and these idiots apparently do not even have a clue. That is why zanu pf is the better devil.

    • The ruling party is ZPF not the opposition. Govt is responsible and accountable for parastatals like in this case. Its about poor or lack of standards. Its nothing to be proud of or to rubbish as trivial.

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