Zim envoy prevents hijack of ED's SA business indaba

HARARE - The Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa has reprimanded the Zimbabwe–South Africa (Zim-SA) Forum for illegally inviting and charging top-dollar to delegates wishing to attend a high-profile business conference that will be attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Pretoria today.

This comes after a June meeting attended by Mnangagwa, then vice president, which was hosted by the Zim-SA Forum in Sandton. Mnangagwa led a ministerial team to that private business forum.

Today’s business forum is a Zimbabwe government event and Zim-SA Forum had attempted to muscle into the shindig but was stopped by the consular general Henry Mukonoweshuro.

The embassy said it had the mandate to singularly invite all Zimbabweans doing business in South Africa and all business persons with an interest in investing in Zimbabwe to an afternoon government business meeting with the president.

This will be Mnangagwa’s first official foreign trip since his inauguration.

Venue for the gala — which is expected to start at 19:00 hours today — is the embassy of Zimbabwe in Pretoria. The Zim-SA Forum invitation letter had details of an FNB account number.

However, the embassy immediately wrote to the forum decreeing it to revoke the invitations forthwith as no money was going to be charged.

“Zim-SA Forum has the pleasure of inviting you and your business associates to a gala dinner in honour of the President of Zimbabwe,... Mnangagwa in his first official visit to South Africa as a sitting president,” Zim-SA Forum president Anele Ndlovu said in a letter inviting delegates.

Zim-SA Forum had imposed a cover charge of R10 000 for the black tie event for a corporate table of 10, with individual attendance at R1 200, while main table sponsorship was pegged at R50 000.

Mukonoweshuro clarified that the embassy had in this instance sorted out all invitations and Zim-SA Forum had nothing to do with the business indaba.

“We wish to advise that this event will be hosted by the ambassador and the embassy staff. The ambassador has since sent an invitation to all invited. At no time was Zim-SA mandated to invite the participants.

“Events where the esteemed leader meets his Zimbabwean people from all walks of life cannot and should not be used to fund raise. These official visits are government by specific protocols that must be adhered to at all times. We request you urgently withdraw the said invitations using the same platforms.”

Mukonoweshuro said the Zim-SA Forum unsanctioned invitations had unfortunately caused confusion and wrong perceptions.

“We have counsel that you desist from moving on such events before full consultations and directions from the embassy.

“We value your cooperation and enthusiasm, but wish that we move together cognisant of government and official protocols and working ethos,” he said.