Air Zimbabwe brews shocker

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Captain Ripton Muzenda has been appointed as the new Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer. The airline has been operating without a substantive head for the past few years.

BY BUSINESS REPORTER

The airline has been operating without a substantive CEO since the departure of Peter Chikumba when he failed to renew his contract in 2011. Later the post was held first by Innocent Mavhunga and Edmund Makona in an acting capacity.

Muzenda once worked as a pilot at the airline and was also a chief instructor with critics saying he had no management experience to run the flag carrier, which is incurring an estimated $3 million loss monthly.

The fate of Makona could not be ascertained yesterday, with the former acting CEO telling NewsDay that his bid for the top post was unsuccessful.

Makona, who has been acting CEO since September 2013, was one of the five candidates that underwent psychometric tests and interviews last month.

“I attended the interviews and have been advised that I was unsuccessful. I was told that I am no longer the acting CEO,” he said. Before being appointed acting CEO, Makona was head corporate quality, safety and security.

Other than Makona, the interviews were also attended by one Kunaka and captain Oscar Madombwe with insiders saying the trio had been shortlisted for the top post.

Muzenda assumed the reins yesterday though he was not one of the five candidates interviewed last month by the board and a human resources consultancy firm hired to help in the selection process, insiders said yesterday.

Sources said the board felt that the five candidates interviewed did not have the requisite experience and knowhow to give the airline new wings, a move experts said was invalid.

“This nonsense about them being not qualified is a smokescreen to get their candidate in. It’s not genuine. You will most probably find that he is least qualified as compared to those being condemned. If they were to advertise, he will obviously not qualify, so they won’t advertise,” an expert said.

Another source said politics could have influenced the appointment of the new CEO, with indications that a senior politician (name supplied) could have played a key role. Appointments to lead parastatals and State enterprises require political support on top of qualifications.

This is not the first time the airline has brewed a shocker in appointing a CEO. In 2005, Air Zim appointed chemist Tendai Mahachi as CEO. He was suspended a year later alongside divisional director for finance Tendai Mujuru after the planes were grounded due to fuel shortages. He never returned to the airline.

Once one of the best airlines in the region, the national carrier has fallen down the pecking order weighed down by gross mismanagement and political interference. Former Transport minister Herbert Ushewokunze at one time described the airline as “a museum of mismanagement”.

The flag carrier is making monthly losses as it is generating an estimated revenue of $2,65 million against operational expenses of $5,94 million, according to a report by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development.

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  3. CHECK YOUR FACTS

    “Captain Muzenda brings a wealth of aviation knowledge, skills, experience and leadership to Air Zimbabwe. He has been an airline pilot for over 25 years. He held the posts of senior training captain and examiner at Air Zimbabwe,” said the statement.

    He also worked for Singapore Airlines and held the posts of Boeing 747 -400 captain, management pilot line operations and crew resource management facilitator.

    He holds an MBA in Aviation management from Coventry University in England and “numerous mandatory qualifications for his profession”.

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