Informed sources told Radio VOP this week that one of Zimbabwe’s diamond mining firms last week moved to avert an embarrassing situation by hiring a plane to ferry Mugabe to the Far East for his annual holiday after Air Zimbabwe failed to provide the service.
The sources disclosed that the diamond mining company, whose identity could not be ascertained chipped in by hiring a plane which ferried the octogenarian Zanu-PF leader to Singapore on Friday for his annual holiday.
About five firms are mining diamonds in Zimbabwe’s eastern province of Manicaland including Mbada Diamonds and Chinese owned Anjin.
“It was an embarrassing situation. His (Mugabe) protocol guys had to arrange for a private hire because Air Zimbabwe could not assist when it was needed,” said the sources.
The diamond firm, the sources said intervened to rescue Mugabe after failing to secure the services of Air Zimbabwe, whose long haul aircraft, a Boeing 767-200 was holed up in London after developing a technical fault.
The wide-bodied aircraft, which services Air Zimbabwe’s international routes and which Mugabe usually charters for his local, regional and international jaunts developed a technical fault after being impounded at Gatwick International Airport early this month by American General Supplies over a US$1.2 million debt.
The plane only arrived back in Zimbabwe on Sunday, two days after Mugabe’s planned departure for his holiday after Air Zimbabwe engineers attended to it last week.
The delays encountered by the ailing national carrier to settle the debt and to fix the aircraft resulted in Air Zimbabwe failing to provide a plane for Mugabe on time.
Mugabe has previously survived being a victim of Air Zimbabwe’s woes as the national airline’s pilots suspends their work boycott to ferry the ageing leader each time he intends to travel.
However, several passengers have had their travel plans disrupted when the airline grounds its planes or suspends flights mainly due to industrial action, fuel shortages and the seizure of the airline’s aircraft.