Former Air Zim executives jailed

2015-04-10 20:51

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Harare - Two former top executives at Zimbabwe's struggling national airline were handed 10-year jail sentences for their part in a massive insurance scam, state media reported.

Former Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Peter Chikumba, 60, and former company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi, 50, were convicted for criminal abuse of office, the official Herald reported online.

The two are the first top officials linked to the ruling party who have been jailed since Zimbabwe was rocked early in 2014 by allegations of massive graft and abuse of office in state-owned firms. Some company executives were accused of awarding themselves monthly salaries running into tens of thousands of US dollars.

Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi were accused of breaking all company procedures by suddenly appointing Navistar Insurance Brokers as company insurer in 2009 without going to tender.

Previously Air Zimbabwe was insured by Marsh Insurance Brokers. The shift meant that Air Zimbabwe started paying out $317 000 per quarter, instead of $132 000 per annum, state media says.

Pfumbidzayi said in court on Thursday that she had acted "in good faith".

Plagued by recurring pilot strikes and a not-always-operational fleet, Air Zimbabwe has been struggling financially for several years.

There is speculation that the two Air Zimbabwe executives may be linked to the faction of the ruling party that supported former vice president Joice Mujuru, who was expelled from Zanu-PF last week.

Mujuru's supporters are often referred to as the Team Gamatox. Gamatox is a poison used in the agricultural sector.

Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba will have their sentences reduced by three years on condition of good behaviour.

Read more on:    air zimbabwe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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