Saturday, 15 August 2015

Air Zimbabwe: Blaming the victim!

Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, we marvelled at the prospects of seeing our aluminium birds — the Air Zimbabwe planes — fly past.

There, the decibels made us scramble from beneath our grass-thatched mud-and-pole huts to just watch in awe a plane with our flag fly past like a majestic eagle marshalling its territory.

The young, the old and the middle-aged alike, folded their hands on their back, intermittently using one palm as a cap to cushion the squinting eye from sun rays: that squinting eye sought to see who was inside the plane. Of course, we only imagined what people were inside, but the flag really made us proud. Our Zimbabwe, our nation, our country!

Three-and-a-half decades and half a dozen moons on today, Airzim continues to fly, albeit some problems here and there. It has stood the test and taste of time.
Air Zimbabwe: Blaming the victim!
Airzim is the idyll that flies our bodies and soul, our humanism and nationhood over picturesque mountains, over boggy marshes, over silhouette horizons, over clear skies and indeed over silver-lined clouds— and literary over the world.

There is therefore, no doubt that Airzim is one of the ambassadors of this country as it literary takes our flag yonder, wide and far.

This makes it a certain national construct of how Zimbabwe would want to project it.

Now when such an airline runs out of fuel, it is a sad story.

Very, very sad indeed. That cannot escape media scrutiny. Imagine you were a passenger on July 31 and your flight is delayed? Yes, that would surely make you angry. This is fact not fiction.

But the media, our media besides, scratching the surface, did not go deeper into the fuel crisis and ran with a story that today makes it laughable for many journalists. To date, no journalist has given readers the real story.

This villager, the son of a peasant, has been in the cockpit of tourism reporting long enough to know the facts on the ground.

It is of course, common to start by blaming air Zimbabwe for the fuel shortage or crisis, depending on where you stand.

One story that came out clearer is that Jet A1 fuel shortages and the resultant flight delays were a result of lack of strategic planning on the part of Airzim.

Far from it. This is not true! It is poor journalism.

This villager does not work for Airzim and neither does he benefit from its tokens.

Airzim is like a motorist who went to the service station only to be told that there has been a delay on a delivery.

Airzim does not import Jet A1. Someone else has the license and that someone is the culprit.

A simple investigation into the fuel procurement processes, by even the most junior reporter, would have unearthed the following:

l Airzim does not import aviation fuel (Jet A1) as this is the responsibility of fuel companies who are duly licensed by the regulatory authorities at various airports. These companies did not have the fuel on time.

l The licensed Jet A1 fuel companies are responsible for the planning, procurement and storage of this product and it is these companies that messed up things for Airzim. Jet A1 is not found all over the place like petrol or diesel. It is a special fuel and highly regulated.

l Airzim is therefore not responsible for the non-availability of fuel at airports and the failure to uplift fuel at these airports by other foreign and local airlines as purported in other media houses. Blaming Airzim is like blaming a bus driver for driving to a service station and finding it empty. The bus company might not even know where the diesel is imported from.

l In fact credit should be given to Air Zimbabwe for satisfying all its operational obligations and no flights were cancelled due to the fuel shortages as alternate sources were secured. But there were very bad delays and people should complain.

l The Jet A1 fuel situation has since normalised in the country and all our flights are being catered for because the licensed importers have sorted out the mess.

l So far, we should be grateful that the national airline prioritised safety and did not take off with insufficient Jet A1 fuel to last its flying time as insinuated by other media houses. That would have been fatal.

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