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Bona Mugabe husband’s plum Air Zimbabwe job saga deepens

Struggling Air Zimbabwe’s shock appointment of Bona Mugabe’s husband as chief operating officer (COO) has been described as unusual by a human resources expert as the process took less than a month amid revelations that he is not qualified for the job.

The airline, weighed down heavily by a $300 million debt, announced that it had picked Simba Chikore as its COO, amid a chorus of disapproval from critics who said the move smacked of nepotism.

Chikore, who married President Robert Mugabe’s only daughter Bona in 2014, has been described as inexperienced as measured against the job requirements in the vacancy notice advertised in September.

According to respected human resources expert Memory Nguwi, it takes over a month to hire a COO or chief executive.
The application process for the post was closed on September 5, and the appointment was announced on October 4, barely 20 working days after the closing date.

“On average, it takes three months to recruit senior officers like chief executive or COO,” Nguwi said.

“The turnaround time for such recruitments is three months but this can be longer depending on whether the person to be appointed has to give notice to his/her employer before taking a new position.

“Some circumvent this by paying in lieu of leave.”

Simba Chikore now the chief operating officer at Air Zimbabwe

Simba Chikore now the chief operating officer at Air Zimbabwe

In the advert, AirZim said it was looking for a COO with 10 years recent and direct relevant experience in the airline industry, proven record of five years successful operational management experience in one or more of these specific areas: flight operations, commercial planning, regulatory compliance, ground operations, reservations, customer services or flight technical services.

Those who worked with Chikore at AirZim say he has no such management experience.

An executive at AirZim said Chikore never had managerial experience at the national airline.

“He was a first officer on the B767,” said the executive who requested to remain anonymous.

“You can enquire with Qatar Airways whether he held a management position or last position in the airline.

“Just to note that the three top positions are now occupied by pilots with no previous managerial experience.”

There are claims that Chikore worked for Qatar Airways before he married Bona, but it is the revelations that he was a mere first officer at Air-Zim that fly in the face of claims by Transport minister Jorum Gumbo that the president’s son-in-law was overqualified for the job.

A first officer in commercial aviation is a co-pilot and is subordinate to the captain who is the legal commander.
A former senior executive confirmed that Chikore never rose above the rank of first officer.

“He was only a first officer by the time he left AirZim around 2011,” the ex-senior executive said.

The source said the ongoing management changes at Air Zimbabwe were being implemented in preparation for privatisation of the airline.

“This team of new management is being put because it is pliable to the intentions of privatising the airline,” he said.

“The plan has always been on the table but everyone suspected the question had been strategically removed under the ongoing restructuring.”

The privatisation plan has been on the table since the days of the Ozias Bvute-led board.

Elaborate details of the AirZim privatisation plan are contained in a confidential document entitled: Information Memorandum that was prepared by MetBank and GGF Global Finance who acted as the airline’s financial advisors.

“The purpose of this information memorandum is to provide investment information to targeted prospective investor(s) who are being invited to acquire shares in the ordinary share capital of AirZim and invest in corporate bonds being issued by AirZim,” the document reads.

AirZim chairperson, Chipo Dyanda could not be reached for comment, but earlier in the week she claimed Chikore’s appointment was above board.

Meanwhile, political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Air Zimbabwe must make public the processes it took to hire senior executives.

The national carrier last month also appointed late Vice-President Simon Muzenda’s son, Ripton, as its new CEO under a dark cloud.

“The aviation industry is a sensitive sector. It is not a tomato manufacturing plant and Chikore as well as the ministry should shame their detractors and reveal not only the process and procedures followed before his appointment, but his qualifications and experience as well,” he said.

“Air Zimbabwe is a strategic national institution so it is important that appointments there were made with the utmost care.

Ruhanya said the argument should not be about Chikore being Mugabe’s relative but whether he is qualified or not.
“We should not be myopic and argue that because Chikore is Mugabe’s son-in-law he should not have been given a job by Air Zimbabwe,” he said.

“He should, like all other Zimbabweans get a job, but on merit. The question should be, was the process that got him where he is meritocratic? Is he qualified and does he have the necessary experience?”

Mugabe has used his influence to get close family members into positions and in the process has thrown out of the window liberation war ethos and principles built around freedom, meritocracy and equal opportunity.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Zimbabweans had reason to be worried about Chikore’s appointment.

“It’s a worrying trend that is unfortunately not new, but it has now reached alarming levels,” he said.

“There is clear lack of respect for merit and objective consideration in every facet of our society led by those in power.

“Corruption and nepotism have become systemic at a time of endemic corruption and as they say, a fish rots from the head.”

Masunungure said under Mugabe, corruption and underhand dealings had deepened to the detriment of the generality of Zimbabweans.

“It’s now affecting every facet of our society and in fact, corruption and nepotism have become essential parts of our culture as well as social fabric,” he said.

“It’s now fashionable but sad and unfortunate that corruption has become the defining feature of Mugabe, hitherto seen as a super liberator and a man of the people.

“Given that nobody has been punished has given root to the scourge.”

Mugabe has over the years appointed a number of his relatives to senior government posts and to also head parastatals.

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8 Responses to Bona Mugabe husband’s plum Air Zimbabwe job saga deepens

  1. Timothy Thorton October 9, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    I do not get the gist of this matter.It would appear people have nothing to report on. Memory, I know several top executives who are hired on merit in less than a month. If Simba’s qualifications are known being the public figure he is, there is nothing amiss about his appointment.

    People have failed to inform the nations whether he is qualified or not, yet it appears that indeed he has aviation experience. His relationship with the first family is an advantage you cannot take away from him. It works to his advantage just like the late VP’s so was given the position of CEO in the same organisaation. I am sure he will be able to mentor the young mukwasha.

  2. Hwacha October 9, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Mr. Editor, when you say “job saga deepens”, we expect you to get deeper than what other publications have already published during the week. I’m sure one question, us as readers want clearly answered is, besides him being a pilot, what other qualifications and experience does he have to his fame. So far, no publication, daily or weekly has given us his detailed profile, none of you has clearly told their readers if the man is qualified or not. You all tell us about stints at Qatar and elsewhere. Why would his credentials be a closely guarded secret? This is a high profile appointment to a public institution and as citizens it is our right to know who is running our institutions, more so, if we suspect naked nepotism is has shown its ugly head again.

  3. citizen October 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    Pedzisai Ruhanya says that tomatoes are manufactured! Which planet does he come from?

  4. sky October 10, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    A First officer’s job is very important as The Captain’s job so please dont “he was a mere first officer at Air-Zim”

  5. knox wa tapera October 10, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

    ask the people of redcliff, they will tell you of one Gabriel Masanga , Bob’s nephew. he ran zisco into the ground and + 4000 jobs went just like that. redcliff was never the same again.

  6. aLARIC October 11, 2016 at 7:12 am #

    More jobs to the young generations please. He will learn on the job. munoti experience inobvepi when we only have one local airline and chembere dzinezvigaro dzisingade kubva.

  7. aLARIC October 11, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    We will judge the man by his experience, ivo vamunito vane experience vamunoda what have they done. they are just people maintaining old systems, isu toda new systems that work.

  8. zvakafanana October 18, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    it seems that the senior officers are jealous about the appointment of this young man .maida kuti arambe aripasi iye ave pamusoro pehupenyu here? whether to critise his aoppointment or not does reverse the deal chitoshandai zviripo .it is to his advantage to marry in the family , if you subbotage him ,its you who will suffer kana airzim yacho yadonha .he will never go down to your level, maimushaindisa zvakakwana, i urge you to ignore the saga and work hard with him for the air company to succeed.

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