President Mugabe’s Son-In-Law Appointed as COO of Air Zimbabwe

Mark Babatunde October 11, 2016
President Robert Mugabe shaking hands with his son-in-law, Simba Chikore, at his daughter Bona's wedding in 2014. Photo Credit: Bulawayo24

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s son in-law, Simba Chikore, has been appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer of Air Zimbabwe. Chikore married Bona Mugabe-Chikore, President Mugabe’s only daughter in 2014. According to the Herald, Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Professor Chipo Dyanda confirmed the appointment last week, describing Chikore as the best candidate for the job after he excelled in the psychometric tests and interviews conducted for the post.

Chikore’s appointment immediately raised more than a few eyebrows, with many aviation professionals questioning if he had the required qualifications to sit on the board. In the past, President Mugabe has appointed a number of his relatives to senior government posts and to also head parastatals. Speaking in his defense, Dyanda told the press that as an experienced pilot, Chikore exceeded the minimum requirements.

Zimbabwe’s Transport Minister Joram Gumbo also defended the appointment, telling journalists that Chikore was over qualified for the position. “He has a lot of experience in the aviation industry that he gained initially at Air Zimbabwe, and subsequently with international airlines like Qatar,” he explained.

Gumbo emphasized that Chikore’s appointment had nothing to do with his relationship with the first family:

“We appointed him in his own right as Simba Chikore. Remember, he is a Zimbabwean who is entitled to take up any job as long as those offering it are satisfied that he is the best person. Remember, in any society, there are relations and that should not distract us from appointing competent people. There is nothing untoward about that. In any case, the President is my nephew. Can people therefore objectively allege that I was appointed in irregular circumstances? We cannot deny someone a job on the basis that he is related to another person even when we are satisfied that he is the best for the post.”

Despite the votes of confidence from the airline’s top brass, many in the country still believe nepotism played a major role in Chikore’s appointment. Some insist that he doesn’t have the required job experience or the necessary qualifications to sit on the board.

Zimbabwean online newspaper the Standard reports that Chikore’s former colleagues at Air Zimbabwe say he has no previous managerial experience. According to an anonymous source with the airline, “Chikore was merely a first officer [a co-pilot or an assistant to a flight captain] on a B767 airliner”. The source also questioned the claims by the government officials that Chikore had previously worked for Qatar Airways.

Air Zimbabwe is reportedly $300 million in debt and the airline has been facing various challenges, ranging from disruptions and delays in flight schedules to the loss of lucrative regional and international routes.

Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: June 19, 2018


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