The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on Tuesday issued a seven-day notice to flyafrica to pay arrears amounting to $2 546 460,41, as problems mount for the grounded low cost carrier.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
flyafrica ceased operations on October 27 after its licence was revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).
The notice by Zimra was issued to Nu-Aero (Pvt) Limited, trading as Flyafrica Zimbabwe, under which the airline conducts its Zimbabwean operations.
The arrears are over a three-year period.
Nu-Aero (Pvt) Ltd consists of the Zimbabwean company Nu.Com (Pvt) Ltd, which owns 51% shares, while Flyafrica Limited of Mauritius/South Africa owns 49% under a joint venture. In the notice, Zimra said the amounts owing are subject to interest at the prescribed rate if they are not paid.
“Please find attached schedules and assessment for the above period. May you make the arrangements to pay the due amount within seven days from the date of this letter, as they are subject to interest at the prescribed rate,” the tax collector said.
Zimra did not state in the letter what would happen if flyafrica failed to pay by December 22.
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The directive by Zimra comes on the back of fresh doubts of the airline’s capacity to refund over 15 000 passengers who had bought tickets before and after it was grounded.
flyafrica director and group chief executive officer (CEO), Adrian Hamilton-Manns said, over a week ago, that the airline, as the parent company, would refund the passengers.
Fears that the company would not pay mounted after flyafrica replaced the call centre numbers with those of former Flyafrica Zimbabwe CEO, Chakanyuka Karase.
Karase was relieved of his duties after the scandal involving non-payment of fees, at the time worth $1 396 119,25, to CAAZ, as at September 14. Karase said he had been receiving phone calls from disgruntled passengers demanding refunds.
“I have been getting phone calls from all over the world . . . (with) irate passengers demanding refunds for tickets sold to them by Flyafrica Limited of Mauritius/South Africa largely after the airline was grounded by CAAZ October 27. Now these passengers say the flyafrica.com website no longer has any South African or Namibian contact numbers,” he said.
“The foreign component of Nu-Aero, trading as Flyafrica Zimbabwe, flyafrica.com or flyafrica Limited is now telling passengers to call my mobile number for their refunds. My mobile number is now ringing incessantly.”
Karase accused Hamilton-Manns and Mike Bond of taking “people’s hard-earned monies from all over the world and saying ‘I, Chakanyuka Karase, should refund the passengers they fraudulently stole from!’ I have never sold any tickets in the past or now for that matter”.
The Flyafrica South African and Namibian branch numbers are not on the website under contacts and only list the Zimbabwe contact numbers, even though the parent company is located in the neighbouring country.
Asked by NewsDay why Karase’s number was still on the website, Hamilton-Manns said: “This is a mistake and will be corrected by our website developers this evening (Tuesday)”. Karase’s number has since been removed from the website.
However, the South African and Namibian contact numbers had been removed, leaving the Zimbabwean numbers. Hamilton-Manns said discussions with CAAZ were currently taking place so they could be reissued their licence.