An airline’s human resources manager’s question to Simba Chikore: “Mr Chikore, what qualifications do you have to run Air Zimbabwe?” Chikore responded: “In my curriculum vitae, I have also attached my marriage certificate.”
BY NDAMU SANDU
Last week’s appointment of Chikore as chief operations officer for Air Zimbabwe has become the butt of jokes on social media as Zimbabweans find solace in the wake of a deteriorating economic environment and that dovetails with American actress Krista Allen’s remarks that life is too short not to enjoy a little practical joking.
Chikore is the first son-in-law by virtue of marrying President Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona.
The airline is now being referred to as Air Simbabwe. In one of the jokes, First Lady Grace Mugabe is presented calling the human resources head to find a position for Chikore, saying she had already conversed with Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joram Gumbo on the move.
The human resources head “offers” the post of CEO to which the First Lady suggests that the chief operations officer post was ideal as her son-in-law would take over the reins next year.
In one of the jokes, Mugabe supposedly takes a dig at those questioning Chikore’s appointment. Mugabe is said to argue Chikore was managing his “fleet” in the same way other son-in-laws manage commuter omnibuses for their in-laws.
Mugabe is Air Zimbabwe’s top passenger due to his numerous trips.
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Chikore’s resumé has never been made public, a misnomer as all senior appointments at state-owned enterprises are publicised. Last week Gumbo said Chikore’s credentials “actually surpass the required qualifications”.
Student leader Tonderai Dombo believes Chikore’s appointment came as an afterthought by Mugabe.
Dombo caused a stir last month after he raised a placard highlighting the high levels of unemployment at a graduation ceremony at the University of Zimbabwe.
In a video circulating on social media, Dombo is recorded saying by highlighting the plight of the unemployed, it dawned on Mugabe that his son-in-law did not have a job.
“I decided to raise a placard to bring the awareness of jobs at the graduation ceremony. To my surprise, the president saw it and then realised that even his son-in-law did not have a job and decided to give him a job,” he said, adding that Mugabe has failed to ensure there are jobs for those who are graduating.
“Now we are seated here and asking ourselves, did I have to raise a placard for the president to realise that the levels of unemployment have reached his doorstep and that his own son-in-law was not employed.”
Far from becoming a joke, the appointment also demonstrated the level of patronage in State-owned enterprises where the “jobs for the boys” syndrome is the daily bread.
Political scientist Eldred Masunungure told The Standard that Chikore’s appointment was consistent with the country’s type of politics in which nepotism and patronage hold sway.
“It’s all about nepotism and patronage; sharing the cake within the family and extended family [associates]. Clearly, this has been the pattern of national politics going back to the 1980s. It’s only that this patronage has deepened and widened,” he said.