IATA hopes that it has made inroads towards repatriating blocked Zimbabwe BSP funding amounting to US$196 million (R2,7bn).

Director general, Alexandre de Juniac, with a delegation from Iata, flew to Zimbabwe this month to meet with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ministers to discuss the stalemate. In the last year, the majority of airlines exited BSP in Zimbabwe due to the government blocking the payment of BSP funds, which rendered the BSP largely unusable for agents who have only been able to issue tickets for seven airlines worldwide.

TNW reported last year (November 14 issue) that agents had to collect US$ in cash from clients and would then drive across town to airline offices to issue air tickets.

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg, the Iata dg said he had been openly received by the Zimbabwe president and his minsters and that he had no reason to believe that the fund repatriation would not be successful. He said a plan had been proposed to the Zimbabwean government to repatriate funds in 18
to 24 months and cited Nigeria and Angola as other countries where similar plans had been successfully implemented.

Foreign currency ban

Iata has also confirmed that the Zimbabwean government has made an exception to its ban on foreign currency for the issuance of air tickets.

This related to uncertainty regarding the Statutory Instruction that the

Zimbabwean government released last month stating that the Zimbabwe dollar would be the sole legal tender in the country in all transactions.

“In Zimbabwe, while it is permissible to hold or own US$, as a general rule, US$ transactions are prohibited. However, airline tickets are exempt from this rule and they may be purchased in US$,” said a spokesperson from Iata.

A spokesperson from the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents (AZTA) confirmed that the government was now allowing US$ payments for air tickets but said that, at present, the only airlines that agents could issue through BSP in Zimbabwe were Air Tanzania, RwandAir, Fastjet, Air Zimbabwe, SAA, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines.