By: Source.co.zw and State Media
Struggling national airline Air Zimbabwe has appointed President Robert Mugabe’s son- in-law, Simba Chikore, as its chief operating officer, making him the second in command at the parastatal.
Air Zimbabwe chairperson Professor Chipo Dyanda this week confirmed Chikore’s appointment to newspapers in Harare.
“Yes, thank you I have to go for a meeting,” Dyanda told The Source online newspaper, when asked to confirm the appointment.
However Prof Chadya confirmed Chikore’s appointment to the state media, saying that the President’s son-in-law had been named as the best candidate for the job after having excelled in interviews.
“It is correct that Mr Chikore has been appointed to the post. He does exceed the minimum requirements. He also excelled in psychometric tests and interviews,” she said.
Commenting on the appointment to the state media, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said that he had approved recommendations by the board’s airline after he was satisfied by Chikore’s credentials.
Dr Gumbo said that Chikore was one of the 134 applicants who applied and attended interviews conducted by the board and a team of consultants.
“He has a lot of experience in the aviation industry that he gained initially at Air Zimbabwe, and subsequently with international airlines like Qatar. He excelled during the interview, and we are satisfied that his credentials actually surpass the required qualifications,” said Dr Gumbo.
He added that the appointment had nothing to do with his relationship with the First Family.
“We appointed him in his own right as Simba Chikore. Remember that he is a Zimbabwean who is entitled to take up any job as long as those offering it are satisfied that he is the best person. Remember in any society there are relations, and that should not distract us from appointing competent people.”
President Robert Mugabe’s shakes hands with Simba Chikore at the wedding in May 2014 in Harare’s plush Borrowdale neighborhood.
“In any case President Mugabe is my nephew. Can people therefore objectively allege that I was appointed in irregular circumstances. We cannot deny someone a job on the basis that he is related to another person…” said Dr Gumbo
Chikore’s appointment follows the August appointment of Ripton Muzenda, the son of Mugabe’s late, long-serving deputy Simon Muzenda as chief executive.
Not much is known about Chikore, or his credentials, although state media reports have said he has an aviation industry background.
Chikore married Mugabe’s only daughter, Bona, in March 2014.
At the time, state media quoted Mugabe as saying the two had met during an Air Zimbabwe flight to Malawi a few years ago which Chikore piloted.
Unconfirmed media reports say Chikore subsequently left Air Zimbabwe for a major Gulf airline, although a report by the UK’s Daily Telegraph seemed to cast doubts on these reports.
The wholly state-owned Air Zimbabwe is a perennial loss-maker and government has announced plans to take over the airline’s $300 million debt as part of efforts to turn its fortunes around under new management.
Critics of President Mugabe’s government – which is facing mounting discontent over claims of corruption and economic mismanagement – say Air Zimbabwe should make public the list of applicants so that it can be proved that Chikore really was the best candidate.
How does someone who has never run a tuck shop become COO of a major, not even though broken parastatal?
Trevor Ncube, newspaper publisher and critic of Mugabe’s government said he’d been left “speechless” by the news. “They are not ashamed anymore. They own Zimbabwe,” he said in a tweet.
Former finance minister Tendai Biti, who was fighting his own battles in court over a police ban on demonstrations said Chikore’s appointment represented “a new low even by [ZANU-PF’s] standards”. Tweeted Biti: “How does someone who has never run a tuck shop become COO of a major, not even though broken parastatal?”
Obert Gutu of the main Movement for Democratic Change said in a statement: “This just confirms that the Mugabe dynasty has virtually privatised the state.”