Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Air Zimbabwe workers seize assets

Air Zimbabwe's who are payable nearly US$4, 00,000 in unpaid salaries and bonuses yesterday attached property that includes management vehicles.

Efforts to stop the attachment and subsequent auctioning of the assets failed at the High Court yesterday.

The properties, attached by the deputy sheriff last Friday, can now be auctioned anytime despite protests by Air Zimbabwe that this will paralyze its already obstructed operations.

Pilots are on strike and the airline has for the past two weeks been transferring passengers to other carriers.
Air Zimbabwe is incurring a monthly loss of US$3,5 million and all its craft on all routes - when operating - are incurring losses.

Some of the properties were attached in November last year, but had not been auctioned because of legal challenges.

Yesterday, High Court judge, Justice Andrew Mutema, dismissed with costs an urgent chamber application for stay of execution by Air Zimbabwe lawyer Mr Selby Hwacha.

Justice Mutema said the High Court had no jurisdiction on the matter.

"The door is now shut on Air Zimbabwe. The deputy sheriff has already removed things and they are going to be sold," said Caleb Mucheche of Matsikidze and Mucheche, who represented the disgruntled workers.

In his application, Hwacha said the airline's operations "will be irreparably affected if execution is allowed to proceed". He said the national airline was an important and strategic State institution.

"The attachment and or notice to remove and sell applicants' property is so manifestly unlawful that an inference of improper conduct is sustainable," Hwacha had argued.

He also challenged the impartiality of Arthur Manase, the arbitrator in the case between Airzim and its workers.

"On November 18, 2010 following a similar application, this honourable court issued as an order by consent directing that the first respondent Mr Arthur Manase, who had dealt with the matter before, be directed again to determine whether or not the date due to the second (Air Transport Union) and third (National Air Workers Union) for salary and bonus November and December 2009 had been discharged. "It is worthy of mention that the matter has had a troubled background...

"There are serious issues as to whether or not Mr Manase has acted impartially in this matter."