The top level of Air Zimbabwe has been arrested on fraud allegations. The damage caused by the executives runs into millions of euros, officials say.
Zimbabwean prosecutors have prompted the detention of the members of Air Zimbabwe’s executive board. According to chief police spokesperson Charity Charamba five managers were detained following a thorough audit of the airline’s accounting procedures and insurance payments. She confirmed that CEO Innocent Mavhunga and his predecessor Peter Chicumba were arrested together with human resources manager Oswald Madziwa, administration manager Patience Tichagwa and the head of strategy Norbert Machingauta. They all have stuffed their private pockets with Air Zimbabwe funds, voices the prosecuting office. The clean up at Air Zimbabwe has also brought Personal Secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi behind bars, being jailed for similar charges.
As findings revealed, the group had arranged paying inflated amounts to insurance broker Navistar between 2009 and December of last year, as well as receiving ample kick-backs as investigations have shown. The judiciary further claims that this together with other criminal acts of money diversion from procurement and aircraft maintenance has prompted losses of €5.9m which the national Zimbabwean carrier has suffered since 2009.
“Integrity” is one of AirZim’s core values, according to their website
The arrested seem to be just the tip of the iceberg since more managers are under strong suspicion of having unlawfully enriched themselves to the detriment of the airline. Fingered were also AirZim’s acting general manager Nicholas Mujere together with corporate service manager Oswell Matore. In addition, allegations were made against three leading employees of insurance broker Navistar because of unlawful financial deals with the airline’s top management.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Transport Minister Obert Mpofu has to find suitable candidates for a fast replacement of the jailed managers in order to keep the carrier afloat.
A former senior manager at Air Zimbabwe indicated to local media that the fraud mechanism could have been stopped much earlier, saying the government was aware of the rot for a number of years but turned a blind eye to protect individuals with close links to the ruling party ZANU PF.