Minister In Court After Zimbabwe Airways Funds Spent On A House

Zimbabwe’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Joram Gumbo, appeared in court on the 5th of November facing charges of corruption. Gumbo has been accused of corruptly acquiring $1 million of funds earmarked for Zimbabwe Airways office rental and salaries, and using it to renovate his niece’s house.

Air Zimbabwe B767-2N0/ER Z-WPE
Corruption has plagued Zimbabwe’s national carriers. Photo: ken H via Flickr

Earlier this week, Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Joram Gumbo, appeared in court to face corruption charges.

According to CH Aviation, initial reports suggested that Gumbo was arrested to face his case in court. On 6 November, however, Gumbo’s lawyer, Selby Hwacha, stated that he had attended court freely.

The case against Joram Gumbo has been pursued by Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Commission, as it aims to live up to some of the bold campaign promises made by Zimbabwe’s current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

What did Joram Gumbo do?

Joram Gumbo has been accused of corruption during his time as Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. In 2017 he allegedly misspent government funds which were supposed to be used to help set up Zimbabwe’s new national carrier, Zimbabwe Airways.

As Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Gumbo was responsible for many aspects of the set-up process for the new airline. When choosing a location for the airline’s new national headquarters, Gumbo selected his niece Mavis Gumbo’s house in a suburb of Harare.

After selecting the house in Chishawasha Hills, Harare, Gumbo then requested a transfer of $1 million from the Reserve Banks of Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwe Airways bank account in August 2017.

Air Zimbabwe Boeing 707
Zimbabwe failed to launch a new national carrier. Photo: DocklandsTony via Flickr

He claimed this money would be used to pay rent for the property and to pay employee wages. He also channeled some of the funds to renovate his niece’s house. In September, $1 million was then transferred from Zimbabwe Airways to a holding company owned by Gumbo’s daughter, Clara Rachael Mudzami.

This money, which was supposed to be used to set up Zimbabwe Airways, has never been retrieved since it was transferred to Gumbo’s daughter.

Air Zimbabwe to Zimbabwe Airways?

You might be a little confused about why money was required to set up a Zimbabwean national airline when the country already has one. Given the somewhat infamous reputation of Zimbabwe’s original national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean government decided it needed a new airline.

Air Zimbabwe has been called one of the most dangerous airlines in the world and has been banned entirely from the EU. In addition to its poor safety rating, the airline also has debt well in excess of $300 million.

Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737-200; Z-WPB, November 1997/ BUG
Zimbabwe Airways never really got off the ground. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

This untenable position left the Zimbabwean government with few options when it came to recovering the old national flag carrier. So it decided to set up a new one with a very similar name – Zimbabwe Airways.

When the first Zimbabwe Airways aircraft was spotted, an ex-Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, the government claimed that Zimbabwe Airways was a private venture and nothing to do with the state.

This was mainly to ensure that debtors looking to secure capital owed by Air Zimbabwe did not seize the new aircraft.

Unfortunately, as exemplified by the case against Joram Gumbo, Zimbabwe Airways soon fell victim to the same corruption that plagued its predecessor.

Air Zimbabwe was not available to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment.

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Ian

Dire safety record? Air Zimbabwe has never had a fatality or hull loss in its existence..

Gerry Stumpe

That does not mean it is a safe airline Ian. It means there is a great possibility that an accident is waiting to happen.