Robert Mugabe’s daughter Bona was at Harare’s international airport on Wednesday to see the arrival of a newly-acquired passenger plane bearing her father’s initials.
The Boeing 777, with the registration code Z-RGM, made a low fly past over Harare’s main Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport before it touched down early afternoon from Malaysia.
Son-in-law at controls?
Pictures from the runway showed Bona Mugabe with her husband, Simba Chikore, who was aboard the plane and dressed in a pilot’s uniform. It was unclear if Chikore, a trained airline pilot, had been at the controls.
Chikore was chief operating officer at the debt-ridden Air Zimbabwe at the time a deal was reportedly sealed last year with Malaysia Airlines to purchase pre-used planes. He no longer holds that post.
State journalist Clarkson Mambo, tweeting from the airport, quoted Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying the Zimbabwe government had so far paid $35 million for two Boeing 777s. He said the government – now headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa – plans to acquire six more smaller aircraft.
Debt-ridden Air Zimbabwe is currently banned from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.
Last year there was speculation the government of former president Robert Mugabe would try to create a new airline called Zimbabwe Airways so that it can resume flights on lucrative European routes.
Mugabe was forced to step down during a military takeover in November.