OUSTED AND DISGRACED COUPLE: President Mugabe and his wife Grace. Photo/news24.com

President Robert Mugabe has been forced to hire a private jet for his recent overseas travels.

This comes after the poorly-performing national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, failed to complete the servicing of its planes, which Mugabe uses, and which are undergoing mandatory maintenance checks.

Media sources said that Mugabe is currently leasing a private jet from Bahrain, which he used to travel to Singapore last week for his medical check-up, as well as for his trip to Ghana, where he was among dignitaries at the West African country’s 60th independence

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Transport minister Joram Gumbo confirmed the less than ideal situation, while also moving to underplay the gravity of the situation.

“Our planes are on mandatory inspection. They are grounded and cannot do long-haul trips,” Gumbo said, adding: “But there is nothing unusual here. We normally hire from South Africa whenever there is a need. Yes, the one you are talking about, we hired it from Bahrain. We do it every time. I don’t know why it’s news.”

Air Zim’s old fleet comprises two Boeing 767s, three 737s, three MA60s and two Airbus A320s. However, only four of those are flying: one airbus, one Boeing 767, one 737 and an MA60.

The debt-ridden flag carrier, which is said to be losing up to $3 million a month, is saddled with a $300 million declared debt.

The national carrier has also over the past three decades struggled to shake off claims of corruption and ineptitude, which has led to the dismissals of several of its boards and senior managers.

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