Zim Airways controversy haunts ministry of transport

Controversial Zimbabwe Airways has been rocked by a fresh scandal after it emerged that one of its directors is also a top official at the ministry of Transport against tenets of good corporate governance.

Zim Morning Post has gathered that Angeline Karonga is listed as a director at the scandal ridden Zim Airways at the same time she is also the Transport ministry’s head of legal department.

A ministry of Transport official speaking on condition of anonymity as they had no permission to speak to the media said the situation exposed the ministry to flawed tender processes amid an array of bad corporate governance practices.

Curiously in June last year when government  assumed the huge debt of struggling air flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, under the controversial Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act,  Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi appointed Karonga as assistant administrator for Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Private) Limited.

The move which left Karonga holding over three key portfolios was rescinded in October 2018, with Ziyambi dropping Karonga and naming Tinashe Mawere as assistant administrator for Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Private) Limited.

This publication also gathers that Karonga is also a director at a company which supplied the Transport ministry with millions of dollars  worth of goods in unclear tender procedures. 

In so far as Zimbabwe Airways is concerned, the government had claimed that it was a private company before ministers said the company was state-owned with plans not afloat to merge Zimbabwe Airways and Air Zimbabwe.

Former minister of Transport Joram Gumbo has previously said Zimbabwe Airways was formed as a front to hide Air Zimbabwe planes from the flag carriers’ creditors.

“The company directors would be from the Transport Ministry. Zimbabwe Airways had been registered in 2012 and the directors were drawn from the ministry. The problem came with having directors who were government employees; this showed that we owned the company,” Gumbo said.

“That is when we removed them and appointed new people with Mangudya remaining the trustee. We went back to the State Procurement Board to regularise the issue of the planes which were now supposed to belong to Zimbabwe Airways.

“We, however, had to keep this a secret and told the public that the airplanes belonged to Zimbabwe Airways, which was supposedly a private company. We did this to manage perceptions and protect the planes from being impounded.

“After the new dispensation (following military ouster of Mugabe last November) came, the new President Mnangagwa said we were re-engaging with the former white farmers and we had agreed on payment plans, so the planes would not be impounded.

“There was then no need to hide behind the Zimbabwe Airways narrative. We were directed to take delivery of the first plane. Chinamasa and myself were tasked with informing the nation that the Zimbabwe Airways story was a cover-up and sanctions-busting story. There was no longer need to keep hiding the planes; we had to tell the people that the planes belonged to the government.”

Karonga was not reachable for comment on Tuesday.