Air Zimbabwe (UM) has appointed its head of Quality, Safety & Security, Mr. Edmund Makona, as its acting Chief Executive Officer following the recent suspension of incumbent Mr Innocent Mavhunga and acting Managing Director, Ms Grace Pfumbidzayi. The two were suspended to allow for further investigations after a recent forensic audit of the airline's operations uncovered alleged financial discrepancies in its insurance premium payments for the period 2009 - present.
According to a report in Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette, Air Zimbabwe's chairman, Mr Ozias Bvute, confirmed the suspensions noting that his board is working "hard to cleanse the airline of mismanagement".
The report claims that during its audit, BCA Forensic Audit Services uncovered various instances in which the Zimbabwean national carrier's insurance brokers allegedly destroyed crucial data and doubled payments while failing to remit premiums. It further claims that for two months in 2009, Air Zimbabwe's aircraft flew without insurance cover after its then local insurance broker had defaulted on its payments to a UK-based global risk carrier following its placement on the European Union's targeted sanctions list. The broker did not inform Air Zimbabwe of the moratorium but still reportedly accepted payments. The appointment of a second local broker is then said to have been done "irregularly".
Peter Chikumba, who was Air Zimbabwe's CEO up until 2011, is also being investigated.
"Both Mavhunga and Chikumba, accused by investigators of approving a string of alleged irregular payments, declined to comment on the BCA findings.
AirZim (Private) Limited acting managing director, Grace Pfumbidzayi has also been suspended.
Auditors have questioned her role in what appears to be murky insurance deals, while she worked under both Mavhunga and Chikumba as company secretary."
In her defense, Ms Pfumbidzayi claims the irregular measures and payments made were necessary as part of sanctions-busting measures aimed at keeping the national carrier alive.