President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, has been appointed Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) Chief Operating Officer (COO), an appointment which has caused a storm on social media.
The appointment was confirmed by officials from the national airline and it was also defended by the Transport Minister following criticism from observers.
Chikore married President Mugabe’s only daughter, Bona Mugabe in 2004 and the couple recently welcomed their first child.
AirZim has been struggling to stay afloat, weighed down by a $300 million debt, which it owes local creditors. The airline, which has a depleted fleet has been struggling to attract investors because of its huge debt accrued over the years, largely due to mismanagement, corruption and an economy in crisis.
The national airline currently has four planes plying domestic and regional routes but it has struggled to remain viable and profitable even while operating such a small fleet.
Previous strategies to change the fortunes of the beleaguered flag carrier airline have not yielded desired positive results, and the airline has remained in the doldrums.
The appointment of President Mugabe’s son-in law is part of AirZim’s current strategy to revive the company, but observers have questioned the appointment, seen as a classic case of nepotism and favouritism. The country’s Transport Minister Joram Gumbo told the Herald that Chikore is experienced for the position and his credentials “actually surpass the required qualifications”.
Officials say Chikore was among more than 100 applicants who applied and was interviewed for the post and due process was followed in his appointment. Despite these explanations, the appointment continues to rile social media users, who argue that Chikore is not experienced to run the airline.
Social media reactions:
Simba Chikore is not the first son in law of Mugabe to be appointed to a cushy parastatal job. Before him there was Sydney Gata at ZESA.Loading...
— Alex T Magaisa (@Wamagaisa) October 5, 2016
I'm maniacally bewildered, overggusted and flabberwhelmed by the appointment of Simba Chikore as COO of Air Zimbabwe. Sad sad day!
— Tapiwa Munjoma (@TapiwaMunjoma) October 5, 2016
Simba Chikore is the new Chief Operations Officer @ Air Zimbabwe ( Pvt) Ltd.
Privatisation of the State.
Mugabe dynasty now in charge.
— Obert Gutu (@GutuObert) October 4, 2016
Simba Chikore our new Air Zimbabwe COO will receive a company card from the Reserve Bank Zimbabwe with no limit. Kusvika tati eke
— Whitlaw T Mugwiji (@jjwhitlaw) October 5, 2016
Mugabe's appointment of his son in law as the General Manager of Air Zimbabwe completes the conflation of State, military party and family
— Douglas Mwonzora (@DMwonzora) October 5, 2016