CAAZ boss saga: minister Matiza sucked in

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) general manager David Chawota’s corruption case has dragged in minister of  Transport and Infrastructure Joel Biggie Matiza amid reports that Chawota is enjoying protection from the minister since the two have a long standing business relationship.

What raises eyebrows is that Chawota who was arrested last week on corruption charges has returned  to work without going through disciplinary hearing as per corporate governance procedure. 

Chawota who is out of custody after paying $700 bail,  has been at the helm of CAAZ for the past 16 years  and is believed to have awarded a tender to Studio Art, a company owned by Matiza without following proper tender procedures.

Studio Art was contracted to design an Airport Hotel at Robert Mugabe International Airport without following due process. Studio Art is owned by Matiza as stipulated on the company website.

It is reported that Matiza is the one who facilitated the return of Chawota.

“Matiza unilaterally decided to allow Chawota to come back at work because there is no board at CAAZ,” opined the source.

Last month Matiza dissolved the CAAZ board of directors amid reports it was falling to meet the requirements of the CAAZ Amendment Act.

The  board had been appointed by former Transport Minister Joram Gumbo in 2016. It was chaired by promiment lawyer Thembinkosi Magwaliba.
In a letter to the board, Matiza wrote: “I write to advise you that following the promulgation of the CAAZ Amendment Act Number 10 of 2018, holders of public office are disqualified from being CAAZ board members. As you are aware there are two members who hold public office on the current CAAZ board, and the new law requires that they be relieved of their duties.

“Matiza enjoys a close business relationship with Chawota that is why he protects him. Remember his company Studio Art was awarded a contract to design the airport hotel and this was done illegally,” said the source.

When contacted for comment Tuesday, Matiza did not pick his phone and he did not respond to questions sent to him by The Zim Morning Post.

This publication has it on good authority that this week, Chawota  visited Matiza at his offices, a development that is tantamount to interfering with witnesses.

“Chawota visited Minister Matiza yesterday (Monday) at his office of which Matiza is a potential witness on the $65 000 corruption charge he is facing,” said the source.

The source further added that some witnesses were developing cold feet to testify in court against Chawota in fear of the minister’s muscle and reprisal.

“Some potential witnesses will not be able to testify in the courts because if they testify implicating Chawota they will be in trouble with the minister.

When asked to comment on the legality of Chawota’s return to work, legal expert Lovemore Madhuku said if his (Chawota) employer did not suspend him then he was obliged to report for duty.

“If the employer has not suspended him he is liable to go to work,” said Madhuku.

However, in this case the ’employer’  is the ministry which is led by  Matiza who is alleged to have benefited from the illicit deals at the parastatal.