ENVIRONMENT, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri has taken the South African Airways (SAA) to the High Court seeking to compel the airline to pay $877 435 in meteorological weather fees.
Muchinguri alleged SAA was using Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls Airport without paying the fees since 2006.
However, SAA has vowed it will not pay the amount since there was nothing at law called “meteorological weather fees”. It accused government departments of duplicating roles and failing to communicate with each other, resulting in the current confusion.
The impasse over the said met-fees was revealed yesterday when SAA approached the High Court with an application seeking to have the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) joined in the matter, arguing they had made all required payments for the airport services to them.
“These two government entities (Environment ministry and CAAZ) are duplicating roles and not communicating with each other,” SAA lawyer Agmos Moyo told High Court judge Justice Ester Muremba in his presentation.
“We have been paying departure, landing and overnight fees to the 2nd respondent (CAAZ) and we have refused to pay the met-fees. There is nothing at law called meteorological fees separately. We have been paying all the fees to CAAZ, which is why we want them to be joined as a party to these proceedings.”
Moyo further said in the unlikely event that SAA was found to be liable, “his client would thus be entitled to seek complete indemnification from the 2nd respondent in respect of all and any such sums claimed by the 1st respondent (Minister of Environment, Water and Climate) in the main case”.
CAAZ lawyer Oscar Gasva told the court his client was not opposed to the joinder, adding the reason was it wanted to clarify its position as to the collections it had made as an agent of the Environment ministry.
According to Muchinguri, through her lawyer Mehluli Tshuma, her ministry was entitled to claim the said fees in terms of the Meteorological Services Act and the Meteorological Service (Aviation Weather Services) Regulations, 2005 (Statutory Instrument 32 of 2005).
“In terms of Statutory Instrument 32 of 2005, the regulations apply to all overflights within the Zimbabwe Flight Information Region and all domestic and international flights landing and departing from those aerodromes where meteorological facilities are available,” she said.
“Defendant’s (SAA) aircraft use and continue to use the aerodrome facilities provided by the plaintiff (Minister of Environment, Water and Climate) making it liable to pay meteorological weather service fees, departure fees, landing fees and overflight fees as provided for by the respective schedule to the Meteorological Service (Aviation Weather Services) Regulations, 2005.”
Justice Muremba granted the application for joinder and the matter is yet to be set down for hearing.-Newsday