Foreign artistes for carnival

HARARE - Bigtime Strategic Group, the South Africa-based company at the centre of the row between tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke, will bring eight top artistes to this year’s Harare International Carnival.

Kaseke, who was attacked early this week by Mzembi for “unilaterally” renaming the carnival after the sponsor, told the Daily News that Bigtime has committed itself to bringing five artistes from Africa and three local musicians to the carnival which will take place in September.

“Bigtime will pay for three artistes from South Africa and two from the rest of Africa. In addition, Bigtime will also pay for the accommodation of the foreign artistes.

“The sponsor will also pay for three local artistes who include Winky D and Jah Prayzah,” the ZTA boss told the Daily News.

According to Kaseke, the South Africa-based company owned by Zimbabwean businessman Justice Maphosa, will invest around $800 000 in the carnival that will run in the capital city from September 1 to 10.

“That is why we should celebrate the coming on board of Bigtime because the company will spend not less than $800 000 which will go towards a public address system, a stage, paying five foreign artistes who will all be African, three local artistes , a VVIP tent among other things,” he said.

The ZTA chief executive officer said the big investment made by Bigtime was the main remain reason why they had initially decided to rename the carnival after the sponsor.

“It’s not Maphosa who asked us to rename the carnival after his company. We just felt we had to recognise the huge investment in the carnival. All he insisted on was a written agreement because he wants to sponsor the carnival for the next three years

“After I spoke to the minister and he expressed his displeasure at the renaming of the carnival, we reverted to the original name,” Kaseke said.

In addition to the renaming of the carnival, Mzembi was also miffed by ZTA’s failure to furnish him with a written sponsorship agreement.

But according to the ZTA boss, the sponsorship agreement between ZTA and Bigtime was now ready for signing.

“A draft sponsorship agreement is in place. Strangely, we have several partnerships with various organisations but the minister has not asked for these agreements,” said Kaseke.

The feud between Kaseke and Mzembi over a company which recently cancelled its sponsorship deal with Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, run by the minister’s wife, Barbara, has prompted some critics to question the minister’s sincerity in the matter.

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