POTENTIAL foreign investors have demanded that embattled national airline Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) addresses its salary disputes with employees before entering a deal with them, Parliament was told on Monday.
This was revealed by Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry secretary Munesushe Munodawafa when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development.
Munodawafa had been asked by the committee to explain the strategies his ministry was going to take to resuscitate ailing parastatals like AirZim and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
“We have quietly tried to discuss partnerships with potential investors who do not want their names to be mentioned and their key message was that they cannot partner with a company which is not operating,” said Munodawafa.
“I have talked to five international airlines and almost all of them said they wanted to partner with an airline that is operating and basically they were also saying we should sort out the labour issues,” he said.
AirZim owes $40 million to its workers and $140 million to various creditors.
Munodawafa said the government was looking at partnerships with credible airlines with credible markets.
“The issue of their payroll will take quite some time for it to be solved and the only way we can solve it is for them to start operating and earn money because there is no other source of funding to pay that debt,” he said.
He said about $5 million was still owed to contractors at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport which is expected to be commissioned soon.
On the NRZ issue, Munodawafa said $450 million was needed to rehabilitate everything.
“The problem is that of capitalisation. Out of 108 locomotives, less than 15 have not done their full life. The problem is that most of these locomotives have been vandalised. We need to buy new locomotives, replace certain parts and reintroduce the signalling systems.”
Munodawafa said instead of focusing on retrenchment of 6 700 employees currently at NRZ, the focus should be on recapitalisation.