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Owner of a 35pc Stake in Ground Handling Firm Dnata Zanzibar Revealed

Documents reviewed identify Suleiman Hamad Ali of Maxima Corporation Limited as the owner of the shares.

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Dar es Salaam. Maxima Corporation Limited, is the company that owns a 35 per cent stake in the cargo handling company Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd, is owned by one Suleiman Hamad Ali (51 per cent), Savannah International (Z) Ltd (45 per cent), and one Sufiyan Aiyub Hafej (four per cent), The Chanzo reveals.

The remaining 65 per cent of the company is owned by an Emirati airport services provider Dubai National Air Travel Agency (dnata), the company whose operations at the Terminal 3 of the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport have caused much debate lately, particularly on the legality of its acquisition of the deal.

The Tanzania Civil Aviation (Ground Handling Services) regulation provides that for a company to be granted a ground handling service license, it must be locally registered and 35 percent of the total shares must be owned by Tanzanians.

Company documents reviewed by The Chanzo describe Suleiman Hamad Ali, who is the largest shareholder of the Maxima Corporation as a Tanzanian national born and living in Mjini Magharib region, Unguja.

The Chanzo tried to get hold of Mr Ali so that it could ask him a few questions regarding his ownership of the company, but our efforts failed to bear any fruits at the time of reporting.

The mobile numbers identified in the documents as Ali’s could not be picked up despite being called repeatedly. The Chanzo also couldn’t find the house mentioned in the documents reviewed as Ali’s physical address.

Dnata Zanzibar Ownership Structure

Our revelation, however, comes at a time when there is a back and forth between the two parties in the Zanzibar government of national unity, with the opposition party ACT-Wazalendo demanding answers from the government over the legal owner of the 35 per cent stake in Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd.

READ MORE: Zanzibar Appoints Two Emirati Companies As Master Concessionaire At Abeid Amani Karume International Airport

During a rally in Nungwi on February 26, 2023, the ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe raised issues concerning Dnata operations in Terminal 3 at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, demanding the Hussein Mwinyi Administration to come clean about the subject.

Kabwe criticised the decision by the government to give Dnata monopoly at Terminal 3, saying the decision goes against laws governing the aviation industry and fair competition both in Tanzania and Zanzibar.

“We are calling on the Zanzibar Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Authority (ZAECA) to investigate Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd to establish who is holding the remaining 35 per cent stake in the company,” Mr Kabwe demanded.

“Because we have heard rumours that the bigshots within the government are the ones who are holding those percentages, and we, ACT-Wazalendo, at any cost, will not accept the corruption of this level taking place before our very own eyes and remain silent about it,” he added.

Kabwe’s criticisms prompted President Mwinyi to defend his government’s decision to give Dnata monopoly at Terminal 3, pointing out that ACT-Wazalendo’s fighting for local companies is motivated purely by selfish interests.

At a press conference on February 28, 2023, Dr Mwinyi said local ground handling companies – Zanzibar Aviation Services & Travel Trade Ltd (ZAT) and Transworld – had operated the airport for 25 years. Still, the government got nothing other than losses.

“When I took office, the salaries of the airport’s executives were coming from the Treasury, but since Dnata was contracted, the airport’s fortunes have improved tremendously, resulting in Sh8 billion revenue in the quarter that ended in December,” he said.

But President Mwinyi said nothing about the legality of his government’s decision to grant Dnata monopoly, nor did he comment on the owner of the 35 per cent stake in Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd.

READ MORE: Zanzibar Airport to Launch Its Terminal Three in December Amid Controversy

Speaking in a rally held on March 4, 2023, in Tibirinzi Pemba,  Mr. Kabwe responded to President Mwinyi comment saying “ACT has no other interests other than those of Zanzibaris.”

While the documents we reviewed show that Dnata holds 65 per cent in Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd, there is a possibility that the company has a 10 per cent beneficial interest in the remaining 35 per cent shares held by Maxima Corporation Limited.

This analysis stems from Dnata’s reporting in its annual report for 2021/2022 that it holds 75 per cent ownership in Dnata Zanzibar Aviation Services Co. Ltd.

At least one local ground handling company – Transworld Aviation – is known to have decided to find remedies over the issue through judicial means, which on January 17, 2023, filed a case at the High Court in Dar es Salaam, ​​challenging an exclusive right granted to Dnata.

But a legal battle ensued when the case came up on January 18, forcing Judge Sekela Moshi to recuse herself prematurely.

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