ZIMBABWE – The suspension of Fly Africa from operating in Zimbabwe cannot be lifted until the airline puts its house in order and complies with the safety requirements stipulated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, the High Court ruled.
Justice Amy Tsanga said Fly Africa should not hide behind boardroom squabbles when it does not meet the requirements allowing airlines to operate in the country.
The judge made the remarks while granting an application by Fly Africa to bar its former accountable manager Professor Chakanyuka Karase from interfering with the business of the airline.
Prof Karase, who is also a shareholder in the company, crossed swords with other Fly Africa bosses to an extent that he wrote to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and surrendered the Air Operator’s Certificate after being fired as accountable manager.
After surrendering the certificate, CAAZ carried out its own investigations and established that the airline had no substantive accountable manager in breach of Part 188.8.131.52 of the applicable Statutory Instrument. An accountable manager ensures safety of travellers; hence the absence of such a key officer compromises the safety of clients.
It was also established that Fly Africa was registered in Zimbabwe but its control was registered in South Africa. CAAZ also established that none of the Fly Africa’s aircrafts was based in Zimbabwe, a requirement which allows tight monitoring of the aircrafts for the safety of passengers.
Fly Africa had no local head of maintenance and the maintenance manuals were not compliant.
To that end CAAZ indicated that the letter by Prof Karase was not the reason for the suspension of the airline, but it only triggered the authority’s independent investigations to suspend Fly Africa’s operations for safety reasons.
That prompted Fly Africa, through Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, to file an urgent chamber application seeking reinstatement of the Air Operator’s Certificate.
Fly Africa also sought an interdict barring Prof Karase from interfering with the organisation’s operations.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu, instructed by Mutumbwa Mugabe represented Prof Karase while Chirimuuta and Associates acted for CAAZ.
Justice Tsanga in light of the report compiled by CAAZ justifying the suspension of the operations of Fly Africa, advised the airline to put its house in order first, if it was serious about the lifting of the temporary ban.
“There are directives from CAAZ that what the applicant needs to do is to put its house in order. Local rules and regulations must be observed by applicant instead of crying foul against CAAZ knowing full well its house is not in order.
“Without attending to the issues, which also include managerial concerns, the suspension will not be uplifted,” said Justice Tsanga.
Justice Tsanga said while the letter by Prof Karase was damaging, it was merely exposing the chaos in the organisation.
“Whilst the letter by Mr Karase was damaging, it was in the sense exposing the depth of the problems that applicant was facing.
“This was against the added backdrop of what emerged to CAAZ as being compounded (by) its management impasse, which it could not simply overlook in terms of safety implications.
“After all, the Airline Operating Certificate has merely been suspended and not withdrawn,” said the judge.
The judge interdicted Prof Karase from interfering with the operations of the airline and making unilateral decisions on behalf of the company.
“The applicant has in my view, made out a prima facie case against Mr Karase in relation to the need to interdict him from making unilateral decisions in relation to the applicant’s business.
“There is absolute merit in respect of its demand that in the absence of a board resolution executed by at least two directors of the applicant authorising him to act, he be interdicted from interfering with the applicant’s normal business activities.