AIR Zimbabwe has opened negotiations for an exit package for dismissed acting managing director Grace Pfumbidzayi to bring closure to the legal drama that has haunted the ailing airline for the past four years.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Pfumbidzayi was convicted by the Harare Magistrates’ Courts for criminal abuse of office, but was reinstated to her position in August 2015 while she was still incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
She is, however, currently out on bail pending her High Court appeal against both conviction and sentence.
Pfumbidzayi’s lawyer, Gondai Sithole confirmed that they were holding talks with the airline.
“After her reinstatement, the airline went on to terminate her contract on notice and that is what gave birth to the current negotiations. We have met a number of times, but failed to agree on the quantum to be paid,” Sithole said.
He said the matter was now before a labour tribunal.
“The matter is now before a labour tribunal for quantification. The package is to look into terminal benefits entitled to my client and exit package after her service to the corporation for more than two decades,” Sithole said.
AirZim chief executive, Ripton Muzenda was not answering his phone when sought for comment and did not respond to messages sent to his mobile phone.
The airline took advantage of the July 2015 Zuva judgment to streamline its bloated wage bill and dismissed 10 senior executives and more than 150 employees as it battled to remain afloat amid spiralling debts and reduced revenue.
Most of the employees dismissed following the Zuva judgment are still to receive full payment of their packages from the troubled airline.
Some of them have been holding demonstrations against the board and management for failing to be sensitive to their plight in the current harsh economic environment.
The AirZim workforce is still bloated and operating at a higher ratio of flying planes to that of its employees.
International ratios are one plane to 85 workers, but the situation at the airline has over a thousand employees living off three planes.
AirZim board chairperson, Chipo Dyanda is on record saying the airline, in its turnaround strategy, would further cut down on senior management positions in the organisation and was looking up to the government, the major shareholder, to absorb the costs.