Air Zimbabwe suspends CEO

Air Zimbabwe suspends CEO
Published: 12 October 2017 (978 Views)
TROUBLED national airline, Air Zimbabwe (AirZim), has suspended its chief executive officer (CEO), Ripton Muzenda, pending dismissal for allegedly opposing a board resolution to retrench over 200 workers, The Financial Gazette has learnt.

President Robert Mugabe's son-in-law Simba Chikore, AirZim's chief operating officer and Muzenda's second in command, would be in line to take executive control of the airline.

The move could mark a dramatic turn to Muzenda's tumultuous 15 month tenure at the beleaguered airline, during which he is said to have resigned twice due to frustration. The AirZim board turned down Muzenda's previous resignation bids.

Sources disclosed that Muzenda had been forced out after refusing to assent to an AirZim board decision for a retrenchment plan that was meant to reduce the troubled carrier's high employment costs, which had reportedly undermined turnaround efforts.

The AirZim board had pressed ahead with firing at least 300 staff, including some of its longest serving executives, as part of efforts to bring about wholesale changes to the national airline's corporate culture.

Chairperson, Chipo Dyanda told The Financial Gazette in April that the airline, battling a sharp fall in passenger numbers, had enlisted the services of consultants to conduct an investigation into the company's workplace culture, the results of which are yet to be made public.

AirZim is 100 percent owned by government and falls under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.

Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo, who has developed a penchant for cryptic responses on the situation at the airline, denied knowledge of Muzenda's suspension.

"I am hearing it for the first time from you. I do not know anything about it," Gumbo told The Financial Gazette.

But at least four authoritative AirZim and aviation industry sources confirmed to this newspaper that the AirZim boss, who assumed the hot seat in August last year, had been shown the door last week.

The Financial Gazette understands that the AirZim board is scheduled to meet over the next few days to decide Muzenda's fate.

"I am told he was resisting board directives to arbitrarily retrench staff, which is crippling operations," an executive at AirZim said this week.

A previous retrenchment of another 300 workers was recently overturned by the courts, and the airline was ordered to reinstate the workers.

"He was forced to go on leave. The AirZim board will be meeting either on Friday or on Monday next week to endorse his dismissal," the source said.

"It is difficult to assess him given the operating environment. He did not have a particularly good working relationship with the board and had a tense relationship with his number two. He was also not the minister's favourite.

In my own assessment, he did not achieve much. It also did not work that when he came, he had zero trust for the previous management," the source said.

The airline's influential chief operating officer Chikore is said to have played a key role in bringing Muzenda from Singapore last year.

People aware of developments at the airline said immediately after the two started working together, relations deteriorated because Chikore usurped his role.

With a divided executive and poor relations between the CEO and the board, the airline had been careering down the abyss.

AirZim's passenger numbers have plummeted to about 230 000 per annum in the past few years, from a peak of one million in 1996, as travellers opt for other airlines on the four domestic destinations it services.

The 230 000 passengers pale into insignificance considering developments in the airline industry in the region.

When Britain's longest-surviving airline brand, Monarch Airlines went into administration two weeks ago, it left 110 000 customers stranded and 750 000 bookings in limbo in only one week.

Muzenda was the seventh CEO in 14 years since 2003, a statistic described by one airline executive this week as "pretty much scary".

The 2003 departure of Rambai Chingwena as CEO marked the beginning of a frenzy of hirings and firings that included Innocent Mavhunga, Oscar Madombwe, Peter Chikumba, Grace-PFumbidzayi and Edmund Makona, who Muzenda replaced in August last year.

CEOs are not entirely to blame for the problems that have rocked AirZim in 14 years; it is government that is letting the airline down.

Analysts said it would be a miracle if AirZim bounced back.

The company faced a new kind of crisis from the first quarter of this year, when it was forced to exclusively depend on leased aircraft, including jets from StarAir Cargo of South Africa, to service its domestic and regional route networks, while former employees camped on its gates, demanding retrenchment packages.

- dailynews

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Violence must be condemned at all levels

by Dr Masimba Mavaza | 16 January 2019 | 45 Views

WATCH: Zimbabweans protest in Pretoria Embassy

by Mandla Ndlovu | 16 January 2019 | 63 Views

Britain warns its citizens in Zimbabwe

by UK gov | 16 January 2019 | 63 Views

PHOTOS: Evan Mawarire being arrested

by Mandla Ndlovu | 16 January 2019 | 54 Views

Zimbabwe kills commerce and lights, by killing the internet

by Staff reporter | 16 January 2019 | 78 Views

Zimbabwe crisis a warning to SA, says opposition leader

by Business Day | 16 January 2019 | 65 Views

Mugabe-aligned NPF calls for Mnangagwa's resignation

by African News Agency | 16 January 2019 | 79 Views

Calls for diaspora protests at Zimbabwe embassies

by newzimbabwe.com | 16 January 2019 | 74 Views

Soldiers continue to patrol streets

by aljazeera.com | 16 January 2019 | 74 Views

Mnangagwa to buy 'State-of-The-Art' Russian arms

by Sputniknews.com | 16 January 2019 | 73 Views

Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe protests 'fizzling out'

by newzimbabwe | 16 January 2019 | 71 Views

Zimbabweans need to do a serious soul searching

by Dr Masimba Mavaza | 16 January 2019 | 79 Views

PHOTOS: Mnangagwa, Mthuli Ncube meet Putin as #ZimbabweShutDown

by Staff Reporter | 16 January 2019 | 76 Views

WATCH: Man in civilian clothing shoots directly at protestors

by Mandla Ndlovu | 16 January 2019 | 78 Views

'Opposition leaders arrested as scores are killed' says Dzamara

by Mandla Ndlovu | 16 January 2019 | 82 Views

Latest update on day 2 of Army killings

by Mandla Ndlovu | 16 January 2019 | 81 Views

#ZimbabweShutDown enters day 3

by AP | 16 January 2019 | 84 Views

Zimbabwe businesses losing millions as shutdown continues

by Staff reporter | 15 January 2019 | 141 Views

South Africa 'confident' Mnangagwa govt will 'resolve situation'

by Staff reporter | 15 January 2019 | 135 Views

Malema's EFF 'extends its solidarity' with the people of Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter | 15 January 2019 | 140 Views

'Internet shutdown is unconstitutional,' says Jonathan Moyo

by Ndou Paul | 15 January 2019 | 143 Views

May's Brexit deal rejected by 230 votes

by BBC | 15 January 2019 | 93 Views

Strive masiyiwa speaks on Internet blackout

by Mandla Ndlovu | 15 January 2019 | 126 Views

'Looters not a threat to anyone,' says Amnesty International?

by Staff reporter | 15 January 2019 | 67 Views

PHOTOS: The unlucky protestors who were caught

by Social media | 15 January 2019 | 147 Views

Chamisa fires blank

by Dr Masimba Mavaza | 15 January 2019 | 144 Views

Almost every Choppies shop in Western suburbs was looted

by Social media | 15 January 2019 | 87 Views

Greyhound cancels trips to Zimbabwe indefinitely

by Mandla Ndlovu | 15 January 2019 | 95 Views

WATCH:Biti calls for an extra-ordinary SADC summit on Zimbabwe

by Mandla Ndlovu | 15 January 2019 | 115 Views

Soldiers turn rogue and join protestors?

by Mandla Ndlovu | 15 January 2019 | 145 Views

MDC appeals to International community

by Mandla Ndlovu | 15 January 2019 | 162 Views

Econet declines to comment on internet shutdown

by Staff reporter | 15 January 2019 | 153 Views