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Alba Iulia
Monday, October 11, 2021

Rejected Takeoff: Inside the Zambia Airways Scandal

Headlines Rejected Takeoff: Inside the Zambia Airways Scandal

Allegations of gross abuse of worker’s rights by Zambia Airways Chief Executive Officer Bruk Edeshaw and rampant commercial and financial irregularities at the yet to be launched airline have emerged.

And investigations have shown that the Zambian Government through the Industrial Development Corporation has since has so far made a capital contribution of over US$4.5 million and has been paying Ethiopian Airlines $240,000 per quarter as Expert Fees even before the airline takes off.

Documents seen have shown gross abuse of worker’s rights, glaring commercial and financial irregularities which have seen the IDC paying legal fees for Ethiopian Airlines to resolve the issue of aircraft leasing because the airline would like to lease aircrafts to Zambia Airways which do not belong to them and the leasing company has not accepted their proposal.

Board Chairman Bonaventure Mutale confirmed in a phone interview that a Committee has been set up to investigate the allegations against the CEP and that the outcome of the investigations will be availed later.

According to a source with full knowledge of the matter, the work environment at Zambia Airways is allegedly a toxic, one-man show coupled with abusive and derogatory language from Mr Edenshaw.

The source revealed that since commencement of operations in 2019, Zambia Airways has not availed any written conditions of service to employees, disciplinary code or code of conduct to its employees.

The situation has since seen an over 50% average employee turnover rate at Zambia Airways in the past two years.

The majority of workers have since resigned and those that have remained have written to the Board of Directors informing the Board of the insults they are subjected to and passed a Vote of No Confidence in Mr Endeshaw’s leadership.

The Board has since constituted a team to investigate the allegations. The workers also wrote to the Ministry of Labour to air their grievances.

As the investigations against the CEO are ongoing, the HR and General Services Supervisor was fired last Friday.

Investigations also revealed that since commencement of operations in 2019, Zambia Airways has not availed any written conditions of service to employees, disciplinary code or code of conduct to its employees.

The work environment at Zambia Airways has been described as toxic by people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The workers are not allowed to act professionally but are rather coerced into carrying out directives. All those that attempt to resist are either fired or frustrated into resignation. There are no management meetings but only one to one sessions in which staff are given directives to follow. The general feeling among Zambia Airways staff is that their CEO does not have their welfare at heart. Officers use their personal vehicles to carry out company duties. There is no provision for company vehicles or staff loans to acquire vehicles. Zambia Airways offices are located at KKIA, the distance is too long and depleting the little income staff are paid,” a leaked internal document shows.

Zambia Airways Chief Executive Officer Mr Bruk Endeshaw speaking to trainees
Zambia Airways Chief Executive Officer Mr Bruk Endeshaw speaking to trainees

Further inquiries shave shown that the income gap between ET seconded staff and Zambia Airways staff is huge and may need to be realigned to address pay inequalities and the current organization structure of Zambia Airways Limited does not provide for a clear succession plan with a deliberate focus on knowledge transfer to local officers.

A detailed investigation has revealed that even before the airline could take to the sky, the Zambian Government through the Industrial Development Corporation has so far made a capital contribution of over US$4.5 million and has been paying Ethiopian Airlines $240,000 per quarter as Expert Fees even before the airline takes off.

And documents seen have shown that the IDC paying legal fees for Ethiopian Airlines to resolve the issue of aircraft leasing because the airline wanted to lease aircrafts to Zambia Airways which do not belong to it and the leasing company has not accepted the proposal to release the aircrafts to Zambia and now the IDC Is paying huge sums in legal fees to resolve this very strange decision.

There are number of commercial irregularities that have been unearthed at Zambia Airways beginning with the Commercial Contract signed between Ethiopian Airlines and Zambia Airways which was structured to favor E.T in all aspects and this contract is valid for 5 years.

In this Joint venture, the total expected capital is $30 million. The is expected to raise $16,500,000 while Ethiopian Airlines is expected to contribute $13,500,000 in the form of leasing the aircraft.

For instance, Ethiopian Airlines (E.T), according to the shareholders agreement is mandated to appoint a CEO despite E.T. being a minority shareholder.

E.T. is mandated under the commercial contract to provide consultancy services to Zambia Airways such as P.R, Marketing, Branding etc. at a contractual sum of $240,000 per quarter in the first 2 years, and $1,200, 000.00 in the subsequent years.

The contract also stipulates that ET shall provide Commercial support and trainings and yet Zambia Airways is made to pay extra such as Simulator training at $18,046.52, Pilots training at $85,000.00 and Cabin crew training at $1,535,312.50.

Investigations also show that the quarterly amount of $240,000 which Zambia Airways has been paying is way above the legal threshold for the CEO to authorize, nevertheless payments have been done and there are some pending invoices as E.T has continued billing Zambia Airways.

Furthermore, the flight schedule has also been designed to support E.T. as if Zambia Airways was a subsidiary of E.T.

E.T. has been appointed as G.S.A (Ground Sales Agents) in Harare and Johannesburg.

And plans to contract a local PR and Marketing Agency to help with timely roll out of marketing activities and branding works for Zambia Airways offices and the Trade have been unsuccessful.

The procurement process for this was conducted by IDC and an offer sent to a local Agency but Zambia Airways CEO refused to engage the Agency, which was charging an amount of $11, 000 and opted for $240, 000 fee to ET.

This has meant long turnaround times for tasks requiring feedback from ET Marketing Team and the substandard work being done by ET in branding and the lack of creativity which can be seen in the Zambia Airways logo and branding which are below standard despite the huge payment to ET.

The source is calling on President Hakainde Hichilema’s administration to immediate dissolve Board and put the entire Zambia Airways project on hold and restructure the shareholders agreement.

There is also an appeal to the government to remove Mr Edenshaw from his post as CEO or send him on leave pending review of the operations of the airline.

A source also revealed that there is a meeting for staff of Zambia Airways at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on Monday morning at which workers are expected to face disciplinary procedure for airing out their grievances.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Just cancel the whole damn thing. It is a corrupt undertaking. The jobs were never advertised. Relatives, friends, tribes people were all recruited secretly.

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  2. “Zambia Airways” has been on the runway for 3-4yrs waiting takeoff. We said the plane had no wheels or engines to take off and they laughed at us (BR Mumba & Co)….and now this scandal vindicates us, hahahaha.

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  3. It’s a shame to be without a national carrier. This airline not only would’ve created jobs but also branded the nation. It’s better for the government to privatize it to local Zambian investors rather than foreign investors on LuSE Index. We can’t just ditch this project like that.
    The government won’t be able to manage it on their side as far as I can see and know so far. Let them dissolve that board and institute a new one in place. Don’t cost the jobs of those employed.

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  4. This is madness to say the least! Just why are people talking about such things when the airline has not even taken to the skies? Problems have started even before the airline takes to the skies? Mu Zambia namo

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  5. The whole deal was a scam, just east us Malawi has problems with ET and makes Zambia different or special? The new dawn govt should move and save the situation otherwise the Et will continue milking us. We have a lot of cash at NAPSA and it can be engaged as on of the strategic partners to pump in some cash unlike some of the projects that were imposed on NAPSA by the previous regime. Why can’t we relay on our local expertise =, we have men like Muyeba Musonda and other former Zambia Airways employees still alive. Why can’t the govt through IDC partner Proflight?

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  6. This is our biggest problem. New government comes in and the entire country goes back on reset. Zambia Airways used to be the pride of our nation under UNIP, It was left to collapse under MMD. PF made some strides to bring the flag carrier back and now all that effort and investment down the drain. Let’s face it, as a country we can’t even organise a piss-up down the local tavern. Why are we so bad at making good deals? Are you seriously telling us that our country is incapable of making their own leasing arrangements but we can purchase a presidential jet worth more than the entire deal? we seriously have a leadership crisis in Zambia.

  7. LT stop it with your moderation nonsense, freedom of speech was guaranteed by this new government. Please give us guidelines and not just moderating for the seek of it.

  8. Starting an airline is not like opening a kantemba around the corner. PF appointed a team to lead this project and these people should be investigated and arrested if found guilty of corruption and negligence. We can not let our investment go to waste because of incompetence. This new government should ensure we recoup our loses or appoint a new team to get the project back on track if the concerns in this report are true.

  9. This is one of the most s t u p i d business plans I have ever seen. How do you enter into partnership with the biggest competitor in Africa who uses the same passengers and routes as yourself? It would have made sense to partner with a European or Australasian carrier that does not have a foothold in Africa. The original Zambia Airways partnered with Alitalia. Airline partnerships are common, but they should be well thought out.

  10. @ 2 ENKA, naseka Bad!!
    I remember chaps like B.R Mumba & his ever delusional “Smart Zambian Enterprise” rants. This guy would harp on loads of “Bull” believing his beloved P.F were miracle workers & the bees knees, whilst most of us saw through the [email protected] & knew P.F was just nothing BUT the ” Violent visionless thieving Enterprise”, FULL STOP!
    Wonder where B.R Mumba is now & what his take is on The New Dawn? ? ?

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  11. I personally do not trust Ethopians. Can tell from the contract that was signed. Ethopians generally have a ka superiority complex towards other Africans. This whole Airline deal must be stopped hence forth. We can do it without any partnership. If we can’t do it on our own then we forget about it.

  12. We don’t need Zambia Airways. What for? If big wealthy nations such as the US don’t own airlines what makes us think we will develop if we own one? We need citizens to get empowered in mining, the arts and agriculture in which we have abundant resources.

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  13. We are a land linked country and a national carrier isn’t just for ferrying people but cargo too, which plays a vital part in this eco system to access international markets. Zambia used to export fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers especially roses to Europe during BA and QZ days. If you allow other people to do this for you, you give up your authority to check what’s leaving the country. This is why we can not get accurate data on our resources leaving the country because we give full autonomy to investors to do as they wish. How do we fail to lease our own aircraft’s but were able to purchase a Presidencial jet worth more than the government share in this deal?

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  14. Why didn’t Ethiopian just lease the Zambia airways name and we would have had a better deal them paying us without any costs on our end. This contract must be terminated with immediate effect. Not only does it milk our people’s tax payer’s limited resources but just goes to show how incompetent we became over the past 10 years. As a majority shareholder we should not have an Ethiopian running our country national airline. As a matter of fact, no none Zambian should be running any national assets. We have enough educated people who can operate and manage the airline.

  15. So why are they being abused without even being in the air? You thought running an airline is easy. A mambala. Just leave it and do something else. Maybe launch a public bus service for the cities; lay some tram lines in Lusaka and other large cities in the country and do something useful there.

  16. The new GRZ has its work cut out…….

    Everything needs revisiting and immediate attention by the president and his ministers……..

    From agriculture rotting maize in depots, to zambia railways to zambia Airways to KCM ……….to granting mining in gameparks to looting reserve forests …….

    The rot is everywhere……

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  17. I total blame the new leadership, HH has taken long to appoint his people to run most of the prastatals. How do you expert the board that was appointed by PF to operate the organisation under UNPND and most of board members are PF carders and they report to the person who appointed them. This is the same problem with FRA & Zesco, we still have PF running the country. Do HH and UPND government think PF is happy to loose the election, Do he expert them to help run this country, my answer in NO. The earlier HH and the UPND realise this the better. If his waiting for investigation, i dont think he is going to get any and by this time they have erase most of the valuable evidence. Also, the people who are investigating were appointed by PF. Please MR. President act swiftly the ball is in…

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  18. Who’s board chair at IDC? Edgar Chagwa Lungu himself. It’s time to cancel the whole deal now and send the Ethiopian back to his country where feudalism just ended a few years ago.

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  19. There is nothing wrong with having a joint venture when it comes to running an airline. Zambia’s partnership with other country to get our airline off the ground isn’t new. The defunct Zambia Airways was managed by the Irish before changing hands to Italians and also had Ethiopian engineers and pilots working for us. In fact Zambia airways at the time of liquidation was in a much better health than Kenya airways. The difference was that Kenya decided to get into partnership with KLM and Zambia Airways was left to go bust because the government at the time had eyes on it’s assets. Zambia airways was liquidated by PWC so HH may have got away with that one. We still need to know what happened to the missing aircrafts which the company owned. We know some were leased but we also owned some…

  20. REALLY WE ARE 57 YEARS
    1. WE HAVE RUN AN AIRLINE,WHICH WAS SUCCESSFUL BY AFRICAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
    2. WE HAVE LOCAL COMPANIES -PRO FLIGHT, MAHOGANY, ROYAL AIR CHARTER TO NAME BUT A FEW
    REALLY SHOULD WE NOT BE HAVING OUR ZAMBIAN CONSULTANTS ON IRLINE SETUP THAN USE USE FOREIGN AIRLINE TO SET UP.
    PLEASE LET’S RETHINK ON A NEW STRATEGY ??
    3. WITH OUR MOUNTAIN OF DEBT SHOULD THIS PLAN NOT BE SHELVED TO A FUTURE DATE ?
    GOD BLESS ZAMBIA

  21. Do we still need more evidence that qualifies an African to be as stupid as they come. Was this deal done under the same Milingo Lungu and cohorts? Do we really luck brains to do things well ourselves?? Yaba !

  22. This issue of national carriers is long gone. Most developed countries no longer even bother about such. Meanwhile, you who depend on Americans to fund your sewer systems want to boast about national carrier? Are you okay?

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