Sources told Radio VOP at the weekend that the matter was discussed at
lengthy at an extraordinary board meetings held at the company’s
Harare International Airport offices on Friday.
The sources said Chikumba who joined Air Zimbabwe in 2005 from Air
Namibia was handed his letter of dismissal on Thursday after a regular
board meeting however some members of the board are said to have been
against the move.
“He was apparently handed over his dismissal letter but there seems to
be no agreement among the board on whether he should go,” said a
source based at the Air Zimbabwe headquarters.
Chikumba finds himself in the line of fire for allegedly failing to
negotiate and stop pilots from going on strike last month, in a move
that left the company about $8 million poorer due to the two week long
loss of business.
The strike also proved to be an embarrassing moment to President
Robert Mugabe who had to travel to New York for the United Nations
General Assembly with a specially hired crew. Mugabe ordered the Air
Zimbabwe board to fix the mess before he left for the US.
Chikumba said, “I am still the Prime Minister of Air Zimbabwe,” when
contacted for a comment.
The Airline Chairperson, Jonathan Kadzura also confirmed that Chikumba
was still at the helm of the airline.
“I don’t know where that rumour is coming from, he is still in charge
and that story is not an issue at all at the moment,” said Kadzura.
The journey at Air Zimbabwe has not been an easy one for Chikumba
since the day he took over. He has however managed over the years to
bring back a sense of urgency into the manner in which Air Zimbabwe
does business. Although the airline is running a relatively old fleet
he has managed to maintain most of the airline’s routes to regional
and international destinations such as Johannesburg, Nairobi, China
and London. The airline’s schedules have been largely on time unlike
in the past when passengers could be left waiting to go on board well
past the scheduled flight time.
Air Zimbabwe has since the withdrawal of financial assistance from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) been struggling to stay afloat. The
airline used to receive about $ 1 million a day to pay for operational
costs. But upon the inception of the inclusive government finance
minister Tendai Biti withdrew all those privileges. Currently the
company is operating on an overdraft. The airline is said to be in
trying to create a partnership with China Airlines in a deal that
Harare becoming a hub of traffic between China and Southern Africa.