US$400 million unpaid debts choke CAAZ

Report by Chief Reporter, Philemon Jambaya

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe(CAAZ)  is skating on thin ice amid revelations that the authority is reeling on US$400 million unpaid foreign loans accrued from overdue foreign and domestic debts , Zim Morning Post has learnt.

These revelations were made by Auditor General Mildred Chiri in her report for the financial year ended December 31 2018 on State Enterprises and Parastatals.

The financial predicament was further exacerbated  by the fact that CAAZ has been operating without a substantive  Finance Director thereby compromising effective finance management and subsequently resulting in poor service delivery.

Chiri noted that  governance crisis in the parastatal put it at risk of compromising service delivery and its liabilities exceeded its current assets by US$200 million rendering  it as good as ‘almost dead’.

“The Authority has been operating without a substantive Finance Director since 2016. In addition , the positions of senior airside safety and airside safety officer  were also vacant.

““I draw attention to the fact that the Authority did not service overdue long term foreign loans amounting to 312 283 403 and domestic loans 105 842 913  during the year ended December 31, 2018.

‘The authority’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by 4199 728 126 .

“These events or  conditions indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the authority’s ability to continue as a going concern,’ noted Chiri.

Poor governance has haunted CAAZ for a long time resulting in  CAAZ in the suspension and arrest of the David Chaota who was the Chief Executive Officer and former Minister of Transport Jorum Gumbo who was also implicated in shady deals that brought the parastatal to its knees.

Impeccable sources told this publication that the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet is keen on investigating Gumbo over his alleged ‘unholy’ alliance with Chawota  in which he ordered the CAAZ board to approve the awarding of a 28 million euro (US$33,3 million) tender to Indra Sistemas and Homt Espana SA for the finance, supply and installation of an airspace management system without going to tender sometime in 2017.

“The special anti -corruption unit is keen on investigating Gumbo over corrupt activities that he committed during his tenure as Transport minister. Also of concern is his association with Chawota whom he reinstated as CAAZ boss in unclear circumstances despite corrupt activities that resulted in the resignation of previous board members,”revealed our source.

In respect of the absence of a substantive financial director, Chiri recommended that  the authority must fill all vacant management posts.