The Zimbabwean government has resolved that Zimbabweans living in the diaspora should pay for Air Zimbabwe services in United States dollars, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joel Biggie Matiza has said.
Responding to the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development report presented during the 2018 pre-budget seminar held in Bulawayo last week, Matiza said Cabinet had approved the recommendation.
“There are issues where the committee has recommended that Air Zimbabwe charge in forex for both regional and international routes. My ministry has already started engagements with relevant offices,” he said.
“On October 21, 2018, I presented a paper before Cabinet on the same and we proceeded to engage my counterpart, the Minister of Finance on November 6, 2018. He has indicated that he will engage the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on the same. We are waiting for the response.”
Matiza said the issues he raised with the Cabinet included that local travellers should pay in whatever currency—RTGS or US dollars, but those in other countries who intend to come back home should pay in hard currency rather than have their relatives buy them tickets using RTGS.
He said government was losing a lot of money through that practice.
“So (in) that area, definitely, it was agreed by Cabinet that it must be switched off. If you are coming from another country and you source any currency where you are working or whatever, you need to pay in US dollars,” he said.
The committee’s chairperson, Daniel Garwe, had earlier recommended that Air Zimbabwe be considered a forex earner and be allowed to charge in foreign currency for regional and international routes.
He also said the government should assume the national airline’s debt, so that it attracts investors or partners on an equal footing.
“The ministry should attend to issues of good corporate governance at Air Zimbabwe as a matter of urgency. The airline has been put under reconstruction and there is need to ensure corrective steps are taken. The committee will be conducting its oversight role with a keen interest on the matter to ensure that national interests are preserved,” he said.
The committee recommended that Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways’ relationship should be clear, including ownership structures to ensure that the process of merging the two airlines is transparent.
“Governance issues associated with Zimbabwe Airways, such as ownership, should also be resolved before merging the two institutions,” he said.