Workers Mutiny At Air Zimbabwe

Police had to be called in to disperse the workers who were demanding the end of the reign of the current Air Zimbabwe board and management.

The workers, who have gone for six months without pay, claimed Goche was turning a blind eye to their plight.

“Goche now flies South African Airways because Air Zimbabwe is no longer good enough, turning a deaf ear and blind eye to our protests,” said an Air Zimbabwe worker.

Several placards denounced Goche and Air Zimbabwe management.

“Goche you have let us down…” one of the placards hoisted by the dozens of workers read.
“We are now fed up with fake promises. Imagine that some of us are now living as squatters at Koala camp, living off left-overs and unfit meat from the butchery,” said another worker who asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation.

The workers called on the shareholders to take quick action or close down Air Zimbabwe.

“Shareholder gadzirisa kana zvanetsa vhara,” one of the hand-written placards read.

The workers also castigated the coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to end the crisis bedevilling the airline.

The workers’ protest is the second one inside two months after they held their bosses hostage and slept at the airport in November in protest over outstanding salaries.

Mobile service provider, Econet also added more woes to Air Zimbabwe by stopping the provision of mobile service to managerial employees over some telecommunications debt.

Air Zimbabwe workers particularly pilots, have resorted to staging wild cat strikes to press management to pay them their salaries. The work boycott has resulted in the grounding of the airline’s planes.

Besides workers’ mutiny, Air Zimbabwe is also battling to pay creditors, purchase fuel and service domestic, regional and international routes.

Air Zimbabwe is wholly owned by the government of Zimbabwe which has been bailing it for years by subsidising its operating costs. But everything changed with the coming in of the coalition government. Finance Minister Tendai Biti has vowed that he will not continue to bail out the loss making parastatal saying it must live within its means.

Recently an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 aircraft was impounded in London over a $1, 5 million debt. It was released after the payment of the debt and flew back home on Christmas day.

Creditors in South Africa have also indicated intentions to seize Air Zimbabwe planes on touch down in South Africa to recover their debts.

As a result an order issued over a week ago by Goche the airline has suspended all flights to London and Johannesburg.

The national airline has debts running into hundreds of millions.

Air Zimbabwe Chairman, Jonathan Kadzura said until government bails it, the airline will remain in the woods.

“It’s an on-going problem until Air Zimbabwe has been capitalised,” said Kadzura.