RIOZIM Ltd, the firm that controls 100% shareholding in Murowa Diamonds, sacked pilots in December and hired outsiders to fly gems before a plane crash near Beatrice this week, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.
RioZim chief executive officer (CEO), Manit Shar said he was in Asia this week, and was unable to comment on the accident.
But sources told the Independent that RZM Aviation, the firm that manages RioZim’s aviation operations, dismissed its entire group of pilots at the end of last year.
“There is a mass exodus of employees at RioZim,” one of the sources said. “The aviation department has been the most affected. This saw the company outsourcing aviation services.”
RZM operates a fleet of planes consisting of a Kingair 200, a Navajo-PA31 and a Cessna 206, the Independent was told.
The sources said the Piper 31 aircraft that crash-landed on Monday afternoon — carrying diamond parcels — was under the stewardship of a private pilot.
No one was killed in the incident, one of only a few aviation accidents in Zimbabwe with no casualties. But there were injuries to Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, armed internal security guards and the pilot, who were immediately taken to hospital.
Pilot Zvikomborero Nyamakura — husband to the daughter of a top civil servant — was on the controls when the aircraft crashed into a field about 16km outside Beatrice, the sources revealed.
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Others included Murowa Diamonds security officer Salfina Karimazondo and Obey Mabvundwi, a constable with the criminal investigations departments, along with guards from Fawcett Security.
Shar, the RioZim CEO said: “I am travelling and currently in Asia. Please contact Percy (Mashire (the RioZim legal counsel)) and he will be able to clarify this for you.”
Mashire had not responded to questions before press time last night.
The Independent is informed that the staff exodus at RioZim has spread to senior executives who have left since the beginning of this year. Corporate affairs executive and spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa is reportedly among those who have resigned.
“A lot of people are leaving the organisation due to poor remuneration and a general deterioration of working conditions. People are leaving daily,” another source said.
RioZim presides over a cluster of mineral claims in Zimbabwe, including Murowa Diamonds and Cam & Motor, a gold operation near Kadoma.
Its interests span diamonds, gold, nickel, copper, cobalt and others.