THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has acknowledged it paid US$51 million to Malaysia Airlines Bhd to lease three planes which were never used, documents presented before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee have revealed.
The payment was part of US$971 million paid by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe without government approval, including US$840 million for agricultural supplies under Command Agriculture.
Appearing before the committee chaired by opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti, the central bank’s deputy governor admitted to the violations of procedures.
“Mistakes were made,” Kupukile Mlambo told the Parliament as quoted by Bloomberg.
It was reported earlier this month that the Zimbabwe government would take delivery of two Boeing aircrafts from Malaysia Airlines after a long delay.
The B777-200(ER) jets are about 15 years old and were to be used by Zimbabwe Airways last year before the deal halted due to a payment dispute.
Zimbabwe Airways was set up by the government to support the struggling Air Zimbabwe which was forced to cease operations in 2012.
One of the aircrafts was flown to Zimbabwe but shipped back to Malaysia in May last year following failure to obtain an air operator certificate from Zimbabwe’s aviation authority.
“The national flag carrier, under reconstruction, could have taken delivery of the planes a little bit earlier had the deal not been choked by administrative challenges,” Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza told Zimbabwe’s The Herald.
“I sent a team to Malaysia headed by the permanent secretary to finalise the issue… The two aircraft are done, one should be released as soon as possible,” he added.
Since the downfall of the late Robert Mugabe in 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed to calls for greater transparency including to unravel financial scandals of the last three decades.