THAT the regrettable happenings at the national flag carrier Air Zimbabwe could derail the country’s economic take-off is an open secret.
The question, however, is why the authorities are failing to decisively deal with the rot at AirZim given the problems dogging the national airline are not new.
The continued dilly-dallying by the authorities to rescue the sagging fortunes of AirZim could signal attempts by authorities to liquidate it in favour of their political connections’ petty projects in the air business.
This is worrisome, hence there is need for urgent intervention by the government and other stakeholders to rescue the situation otherwise we may end up in a fix.
It is now not in doubt that the country currently only has a single aircraft — a situation that is not only worrisome but embarrassing, to say the least.
It is a shame. If Zimbabwe is indeed open for business — according to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra —surely, this should be their first port of call. How can a nation of 14 million people have just a single plane flying?
With tourism improving faster than expected, connectivity is key as visitors would want to be taken wherever within the country on time. Time is money, and if they will not be able to connect faster then they might as well kiss Zimbabwe goodbye.
Zimbabweans now have a feeling that top government officials and their cohorts have an agenda to destroy the national airline to give an advantage to its competitors where some politicians may be holding equity. Talk of the Zimbabwe Airways project fronted by former President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore.
This we believe precipitated the rot at AirZim. There is need to dig deeper into this case and establish what went wrong, and if there were an underhand dealings, they must be exposed and those found on the wrong side of the law severely punished.
Yet Transport minister Joram Gumbo is dead quiet while loyal AirZim customers are being roughed up, failing to arrive at their destinations on time and losing business. We have no doubt that Gumbo, if quizzed, would be quick to pass on the blame to Chikore, but Zimbabweans are not fools. His connections in Zanu PF could be firmly in many of these petty projects aimed at scamming the country of their heritage.
At a time when we should be promoting tourism, it is critical that we have a viable, efficient and reliable airline, something that is now a strange phenomenon at the near-moribund AirZim. This should be a source of pride for us as a nation, but many people are now shunning the airline in preference to foreign ones.
AirZim is like dead wood, bleeding State coffers through loans and subsidies and this culture cannot be allowed to continue if we are really serious about turning around the country’s economic fortunes.
The company’s restructuring has never been more needful, and this must be addressed urgently. It is untenable for it to continue operating under the red ink line.
To imagine that at independence in 1980, we had a healthy fleet of 18 planes! Clearly, we need to recall the glory days!
It is our hope that a long lasting solution to this crisis would be found sooner than later!