Command this and that and Zim Airways: A lighter look

AFTER much brainstorming and scratching of heads on how to turn around Air Zimbabwe’s failing fortunes, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet had acquired a few bald heads.

Tapiwa Nyandoro

The airline was saddled with a staggering debt of around $300 million, more than the value of its assets.

No one knew exactly how and when the debt had been acquired.

Some suspected witchcraft.

Others boldly suggested imperialists and neo-colonialism were to blame.

After chanting a slogan against colonialism and colonialists, and wishing the President a long life, the lady minister dressed in full party regalia complete with doek, shed a revolutionary tear, before putting the blame squarely on illegal Western sanctions.

The suggestion was received with thunderous applause by honourable ministers on a re-treat at the resort.

After a few days of more brainstorming an elaborate solution was found that would satisfy the party’s thirst for indigenisation, without appeasing the creditors to Air Zimbabwe, some of whom were Western, and like witches secretly approved of Western sanctions seeking regime change.

Command tourism would create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to buy relatively new, but pre-owned Boeing aircraft.

Comrade Moyo silently wondered what kind of colour this SPV would be painted in.

The pre-owned planes could be bought for on-leasing for 99 years in the same way as land is leased to the indigenous.

For a grace period of 33 years thereafter, the lessee, allocated the planes, if of indigenous stock, could operate without paying any fees, but receiving subsidies in inputs such as fuel without duty or other taxes.

In addition, landing fees would be free.

These benefits would be in accordance with an empowerment law or ministerial discretion. In addition the airline would be accorded national project status and also special economic zone status, all in an effort to maximise benefits by plugging any loopholes that might let a benefit escape.

To encourage tourist inflows from the important Gatwick to Harare route government would pay for all seats for three years at a rate of $2 000 per seat per flight.

Zim Airways would then sell these same seats to passengers for $500 per seat which it would compensate government for its subsidy, the way the Grain Marketing Board pays $380 per tonne for maize before selling it for $240.

This command flying programme, if it was concluded, was guaranteed to see our aviation industry on the boil and increase numbers of tourists flying into the country. It would also give other airlines a run for their money.

A few years down the road, the broke Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company would sell its planes to Zim Airways in a privatisation deal.

The minister who came up with the good idea received a call from a vice-chancellor that his doctorate degree in business management was ready.

All he had to do was sign his thesis.

Cabinet was quick to pass a resolution going with the idea. It was decided to keep it a secret after the lady in party regalia decided the First Family be empowered first in the launch of command tourism.

Because the First Family was involved secrecy became high priority, kurasisa vawengi!

Then along came a military coup that upset the apple cart.

Those damned colonialists had found another way of effecting regime change!

The lady minister, who had been in full party regalia at the resort, had wept uncontrollably.

For, together with Comrade Moyo, she had been allocated 10% of the central bank should the time to privatise the bank come.

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