Controversy surrounds purchase of Air Zim plane

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  • Zim takes delivery of new aircraft
  • Acquisition riddled with controversy
  • Ex-minister Joram Gumbo involved in deal facilitated by Simba Chikore

LAST week Zimbabwe took delivery of a new aircraft (Boeing 777-200ER) from Malaysia, with euphoria said to have gripped the nation.

Zim Morning Post can exclusively reveal that the acquisition of the bird was littered with controversy.

The deal was facilitated by someone with a chequered past, namely the former late President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore.

At the material time, Chikore headed Zimbabwe Airways, then under the Zimbabwe Aviation and Leasing Company (Zalc).

Zim Morning Post understands that in 2018, Chikore wrote a letter to the then Transport minister Joram Gumbo, advising him on the nitty-gritties of the deal he had entered into with Malaysian Airways.

This publication also had sight of the letter dated July 25, 2018 wherein Chikore stated the finer details of the agreement of sale between government and Malaysia Airlines.

Kindly find attached the new agreement of sale received from the administrator at Malaysia Airlines.

“As the original agreement was terminated, the seller advised they could not find a way to allow us to resume payments for the balance on the old agreement. We are currently going over the contract and shall submit our comments within 24 hours.”

Chikore’s correspondence also stated that the new agreement that Zimbabwe entered was signed on December 21, 2016 for “purchase and delivery of four Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft with manufacturer’s serial numbers 29065, 29066, 28421 and 284”.

It further stated that “the seller delivered, and the buyer nominee took delivery of two Boeing 777-200ER aircraft with manufacturer’s serial numbers 28421 and 28422.”

Part of the agreement read: “Due to the buyer’s persistent repudiatory breach of the original sale and purchase agreement delivery of two Boeing 777-200 ER, with manufacturer’s serial numbers (MSN) 29065 and 29066, has not occurred… and the original sale and purchase agreement was terminated on July 6, 2018. The seller has retained the deposit under the original sale and purchase agreement as liquidated damages to compensate it for its losses thereunder.”

The documents also stated that “the seller acknowledges that it has received the deposit for MSN 29065 prior to the date of this agreement… the buyer undertakes to pay the deposit of MSN 29066 of US$4 000 000 to the seller on or prior to August 3, 2018.”

According to the agreement of sale submitted by Chikore then, the following terms of payments for the MSN 29065 were agreed: “The first purchase price instalment of US$6 000 000 shall be paid by the buyer to the seller on or prior to August 31, 2018.

“The second purchase prices instalment of US$6 500 000 shall be paid by the buyer to the seller on or prior to 7 September 2018.”

Contrary to Chikore’s submissions, Gumbo and the then Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa argued that the plane was bought through their sole agent, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Kuala Lumpur.

Gumbo claimed that Zalc and Zimbabwe Airways are owned by government, reneging on their initial claim that they were private companies owned by Diasporas.

Zim Morning Post understands that government set up Zimbabwe Airways to avoid a scenario where more aircrafts would impounded by debtors as happened in London in 2011 at Gatwick International Airport.

 In 2011, Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing 767-200 inscribed “Victoria Falls” was impounded by American General Supplies on landing at Gatwick International Airport over a $1,2 million spares.

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