Mzembi, stop bootlicking

HARARE - During the inclusive government era, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was one of the most illustrious Cabinet members, and this was epitomised by the successful hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly last year.

However, since his re-appointment to the Tourism portfolio after last year’s elections, Mzembi has decided to join the bandwagon of President Robert Mugabe’s praise singers instead of focusing his energies on developing the sector.

Last year, he cried on seeing the picture of a young Mugabe, all in a bid to make the president believe Mzembi cares for him. Yesterday Mugabe disclosed that Mzembi had arranged the honeymoon for Bona and her husband, Simba Chikore.

This comes two weeks after Mzembi was seen grovelling, as a way of bootlicking Mugabe at Chikore’s bachelor’s party.

Now that the European Union has eased its sanctions and removed most of the travel bans and restrictions on Zimbabwe, there is no reason why our tourism sector should not return to it’s glory days.

In the 1990s tourism was one of the largest contributors to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product and the situation only changed at the turn of the millennium when the country was placed under sanctions by the West due to its appalling human rights record.

A lot has changed since then and we now expect Mzembi to refrain from bootlicking the-powers-that-be and instead, sing another chorus of marketing the country vigorously as a safe and preferred tourism destination.

Zimbabwe is endowed with a unique geography, that includes the beautiful mountain ranges in Manicaland, the Victoria Falls, a host of national parks filled with millions of flora and fauna and the Great Zimbabwe. The country boasts of a good climate while the tourism resorts and accommodation compare with the best. Gifted with these exceptional tourism attractions, the sector should be thriving.

If only the minister could get his priorities right, Zimbabwe would be in a better position to attract over five million tourists annually compared to the 1,8 million that we have been receiving in the past few years.

Although Mzembi can argue that he is not getting enough money from Treasury to implement effective marketing strategies, he has simply run out of ideas.

Should the money be availed to him today, it’s unlikely that we would see any significant changes in the sector. Perhaps, he is now gratified that he brought the UNWTO general assembly to this part of the world, but that is not enough. More is expected more from you.

Tourism has the capacity to employ thousands through appropriate and comprehensive policies needed to attract tourists into the country to spend a week or so here.

Attracting high spending tourists into Zimbabwe would not only ease the liquidity crunch we are facing but would also go a long way in reducing the over 90 percent unemployment rate in the country.

Crucially, Mzembi has failed to introduce a simplified visa regime to assist tourists into Zimbabwe.

In a technologically-advanced world, most countries, in Africa and elsewhere, have very simplified visa regimes as a way of encouraging more visitors into their territories.

Despite him ranting about crafting a National Tourism Growth Strategy Vision 2020 aimed at boosting tourists’ receipts to over $5 billion in six years, the minister has failed to protect the industry from punitive duties imposed on tourism players by government last year.

Zimbabwe last year introduced a 15 percent value added tax on foreign receipts, a move tourism operators say is making the country an expensive destination.

Such a development is not only a setback for an industry slowly climbing out of a decade-long recession but will also hinder the travel and tourism sector’s drive to increase visitor arrivals and thereby increase foreign currency earnings by the sector.

Already, tourist arrivals from South Africa are on the decline following the weakening of the rand against the US dollar and the increased value added tax on non-resident guests will worsen the situation.

Instead of focusing on protecting and growing the industry, Mzembi is now focusing on venturing into diamond and gold mining — businesses that are totally divorced from his mandate.

Comments (10)

Good article but one thing I want to ask, Why are tourists not coming to Zimbabwe? It is because of alarming reports that are written by you journalist especially the so called independent media which are bent tarnishing the image of the country to justify their Mugabe must go mantra to the delight of your handlers. We are going nowhere as long as we are divided. People in authority will continue boot-licking to find favours at the expense of the majority who continue to languish in poverty. Look at Chiadzwa what has happened there? people died there because there where doing illegal mining but the gvt intervened and people died there as they tried to bring sanity there, but how did the media handled it? it was all about blood diamonds all over in news media? Would that bring tourist or it hampers them and choose other destinations other than ours. Zimbabwe may be more peaceful than other countries attracting a large numbers of tourist but ask yourself why are they not coming to Zimbabwe? The answer lies in our media which has power to attract negative perceptions that good perceptions. Food for thot. We may blame these so called boot-lickers but u the media are a big let down.

zvaiwana ngwarati - 16 March 2014

Zvaiwana ngwarati you are correct to lay the blame on independent media, this has been the case when you look at the so called Mugabe must go mantra to please their handlers as u again put it. May I put the record straight for you? why do you also want to hide behind your finger and start blaming the blameless. You touched a lot of interesting things and one of them the Chiadzwa fiasco when a government would kill it's people to secure the diamond fields. Why was the army used to do that job when the zrp is the rightful/constitutional arm of gvt to deal with law and order? As a result did you see the results of violent business enterprise? hence the name blood diamonds. What is coming to treasury? nothing. That's not my point, the point is where do you expect tourists to come to when all/every resort now belong to individuals, usa rova imbwa wakaviga mupinyi, there are no resorts they have been turned into individual entities and who on earth would like to visit such places they are not resorts anymore. You write in your capacity as a boot-liker not as an independent opinionist. The media by virtue of it's obligations have the right to report objectively and not patronize/boot-lick in any way and this time around this is food for thot, be yourself and see things as they appear and stop trying to twist people's minds we still can see and see far for that matter.

hamurevesi - 16 March 2014

wat else do u xpect 4rm these Zanu idiots, Mzembi hs neva shed a tear 4 hs fatha bt wl openly cry 4 an old Malawian Mugabe

hapana zvamunondiita - 16 March 2014

I agree with u, Hamurevesi but what i was trying to say is that the media contributes more to our situation because of negative reports and u expect tourists to come. I have mentioned that some countries not even safer than Zimbabwe attracts a huge number of tourists. So where is our problem? that is why u saw me blaming the media. Mind u my brother I am not a bootlicker, just bcoz i mentioned the Mugabe must go mantra does not qualify me for that bcoz I dont support anyone politically bcoz i have no trust that any human leader can permanently solve all mankind social, economic or political problems

zvaiwana ngwarati - 16 March 2014

Who wins in bootlicking contest between Mzembe, Gutu and Shamisa... Any bets?

Qiniso - 17 March 2014

It pains me that South Africa advertises Victoria Falls as if it's within their territory. They found a loophole in us not selling it out there and took advantage.

Sinikiwe Shumba - 17 March 2014

@Sinikiwe Sumba, the South Africans do this coz we are stupid PERIOD.

Roland Dube - 17 March 2014

@Zvaiwana- You dont help your situation by not telling us these countries which are less stable than Zimbabwe that attracting these tourists...The problem we have as Zimbabweans is we overhype ourselves into a frenzy with little to show on the ground. If you are at the OR Tambo airport it is almost annoying when you hear the PA system announcing trips to Lvingstone as opposed to Vic Falls. I believe Livingstone get about maybe 10 flights per day as opposed to three or so from OR Tambo. The reason is because tourists like a place where they understand the rules not some place where the law is not known or followed even by the locals themselves. Mzembi should be moved from that Ministry he paints very fanciful pictures which are so divorced from what is happening on the ground..and that Tourism indaba of his last year cost us more than we are getting..Given the hype surrounding it we should be having tourists growing out of our hair but the situations is actually worse. As long as Zimbabwe carries the lawless tag, you can forget about tourists..Tourists by the way are not idiots who are conned into fake realities of ZANUPF jingles!

gutter poet - 17 March 2014

Yes tourists are not gullible. Mzembi may shout infront of everyone on twitter that Zimbabwe is the most peaceful country in Africa but who believes him? The negative media, the unemployment, the corruption plus the HIV spreading rates in Zim are way to high to make teh country a tourist destination... Mzembi's own former permanent secretary Bradah Maunganidze is known to be infecting Masvingo teenagers with HIV. So Mzembi, please start organising your house instead of going infront of the whole world to sing lies.

Kumbirai - 18 March 2014

Yes Bradah Sylvester Maunganidze a former PS in Mzembi's ministry has been mercilessly spreading HIV to children and yet Mzembi was quiet. So Kumbirai I agree with you, Mzembi needs to put his officers in order before selling an imaginary zimbabwe to the world

PHD - 19 March 2014

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