The country’s security services, under the Joint Operations Command, (JOC), convened an urgent meeting following the break down of the country’s aviation traffic control system on Monday.
The breakdown disrupted flights in and out of the country, a situation considered a great security risk as undesirable elements could fly in and out of the country unnoticed. A security official who spoke to The Independent had this to say:
A meeting was called where a decision was made to procure a new radar and traffic control system by mid-December. While this breakdown was only for a few hours, on some occasions the system has been down for almost 24 hours, meaning air traffic can pass through or land undetected.
This also means mercenaries can fly in and out without being detected. It’s a serious security matter, not just an aviation matter, hence the intervention of Joc. There was also concern that smuggling syndicates were also taking advantage of the constant breakdown of the radar system to fly some minerals, particularly diamonds and gold, out of the country.
The Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe had previously advised the government to upgrade the communication system in the country for the past two years.
The Minister of Transport, Joel Biggie Matiza, was also notified of the deplorable state of Air Traffic Control VHF Communications Systems in October but no corrective action was taken.