By May 2018, Gumbo’s story had flipped completely. Zim Airways was in fact owned by the government, Gumbo told Parliament. The State had, he disclosed, paid US$41 million towards the US$70 million purchase price for the second hand Malaysian aircraft.
Why had he lied then? It was a ploy, he said, to fool creditors who would have grabbed the planes over Air Zimbabwe debts.
As the planes were delivered in 2018, Patrick Chinamasa, then Finance Minister, said a vehicle called “Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company, which is 100% owned by government, is leasing the new Boeing 777 to Zimbabwe Airways, which is also wholly owned by the government”.
Chinamasa is now Air Zimbabwe chairman, bizarrely appointed despite the airline having been placed under an administrator.
In December 2018, plane-spotters posted images of one of the Zim Airways planes, at an airport in Kansas, USA. It turned out it had since been bought by Jet Midwest. Soon after, it was reported that another B777-200ER had also been sold after Zimbabwe missed instalment payments.
Two remaining two aircraft, it was said then, were still expected to be delivered to Zim Airways in 2019 as they had been fully paid for, as claimed by Gumbo. No planes have been delivered so far.
However, two years after that first Zim Airways plane was first spotted, in its bold livery with black tail, Zimbabweans are nowhere closer to being told the truth around the planes.
There is, obviously, a deeper scandal that happened between a phantom airline and its troubled predecessor.
It could be that Jorum Gumbo did not profit from the Zim Airways deal. However, having flown to Malaysia to stitch up the deals as Mugabe’s Transport Minister, he certainly knows how it all went down. But, when he walks into court for his remand hearing, he will be under no pressure to tell us what really happened.
Whether Gumbo is convicted or not on these charges, by the time his trial ends, Zimbabweans will be no closer to the truth about Zimbabwe Airways.
This is because, just like many other top figures arrested before him – such as the arrest of corruption poster boy Ignatius Chombo – Gumbo won’t have to answer to what happened at the centre of the scandal. He only has to answer for the skirmishes that happened around it.
The scale and spread of the corruption is such that few scandals can be pinned on a single person; there has been enough sleaze to go around.
And that is the story of Zimbabwe’s hollow anti-corruption drive.-NewZwire