EASTERN NEWS | Top cops fingered in smuggling

MUTARE - Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, pictured, has demanded the arrest and prosecution of local police commanders he claimed were integral members of the criminal smuggling syndicates.

Addressing Manicaland police commanders at Mutare Main Camp on Tuesday in his maiden tour of the province, Matanga said he was shocked to receive intelligence linking local top cops to rampant smuggling along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border that has been depriving the country of millions of dollars annually by facilitating illegal passage of second-hand bales of clothes.

The top cop who warned that the senior police officers, some of whom he said would even provide “escort services”, were “cruising for a bruising”.

“It is on record that smuggling is rife along the stretch of the Zimbabwe/Mozambique borderline. For some time, I have been trying to figure out why this is so; with the collective effort from other key stakeholders, why are we failing to make headway in ridding the society of this menace?

“The explanation I am receiving is dumbfounding, to say the least. It is beyond the realms of my imagination that amongst you, there are some who have the nerve to engage in despicable acts to promote smuggling.

“I’m told, some are integral members of syndicates and specialise in facilitating the smuggling of bales of second-hand clothing through provision of escort services and others act as the conduits for various contraband.

“Let me thus warn those that are engaging in such sordid acts that they are already determining their own fate. If they opt to remain aboard their corruption boat, they must know that they are cruising for a bruising,” Matanga said.

He ordered that they be promptly sniffed out and arraigned in criminal courts, arguing that this would give impetus to the anti-corruption efforts.

“As a province, you must give impetus to all existing anti-corruption strategies and a lot more that the organisation shall continue to devise to deal with corruption.
Let no dirt be swept under the carpet.

“You ought to move with haste in sniffing out all bad elements and ensure that they have their day in court. The organisation is much better off without them. Such uncouth elements are actually the spanners in our works,” Matanga said.

Essentially reading the riot act to a hitherto placid local command element of his organisation, the commissioner-general also accused some of his lieutenants of lacking spine in discharging their work, especially in dealing with political “bigwigs”.

“Earlier, I bemoaned the timidity that manifests in the decisions of certain commanders who quake in their shoes when some high-profile persons, especially the so-called ‘political bigwigs’ commit crime,” he said.

He said while he was not a “proponent of tyrannical leadership” he only had respect for “commanders who knew where to draw the line between firmness and leniency”.
“All, commanders, regardless of their level, must be too kind to a fault,” he warned.

He said the timidity and indecisiveness was also breeding indiscipline in the police.

“Some pockets of indiscipline emerging in the force can also be attributed to indecisiveness inherent in some commanders when dealing with defaulters in the same way they hesitate to take appropriate action against prominent persons when they break the law,” Matanga said.

He urged the senior cops to retain their authority and act swiftly and decisively on all acts of indiscipline and violations to the code of conduct.

Matanga also challenged the police to create “an environment that is conducive to the holding of free, fair, peaceful, credible and transparent elections”.

He said the police should have no tolerance for violence or instigators of violence.

“Bring to book all perpetrators of political violence, even those who merely instigate violence or intimidation.

“You must apply the law non-selectively. Hakuna muti unoera demo (There are no sacred cows),” he said.

Zanu PF lauded for not  forcing people to rally

MUTARE - In A development that marked a clear departure from former president Robert Mugabe-era tactics, Zanu PF turned a corner by hosting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rally at Sakubva Stadium on Saturday without frog-marching vendors and forcing closure of business to boost numbers at the gathering.

It was business as usual in the central business district with many locals oblivious of the presence of the Zanu PF leader in the city as the party dumped its hitherto stock-in-trade mobilisation tool — coercion.

In Sakubva, only the second-hand clothes flea market was closed as it lies right at the entrance of the venue while the fruit and vegetable market and second-hand shoe markets operated undisturbed by the event.

This, however, did not prevent genuinely curious locals as well as Zanu PF members from packing the stadium — although the numbers were not as outrageous as Mugabe’s youth interface rally which had people from across the province after months of mobilisation and busing.

While there were some people from outside the city it was clearly its district leadership and not distraught and disoriented villagers as they came by bus.

Zanu PF aspiring candidate for Mutare Central Nancy Saungweme, whose prospective constituency was hosting the rally, said while she was nervous about mobilisation, they would not coerce people to attend.

“I’m nervous because the president is coming into my constituency and that at very short notice but no, we are not going to close down people’s businesses or compel anyone to attend the rally. People are genuinely excited at attending the rally.

“If there is any disappointment it is for the short notice because people really wanted to mobilise well to give (him) a rousing welcome.

“But then this is not a properly scheduled rally but something that was just squeezed in at short notice because the president was around on government business,” Saungweme said before the rally.

A snap survey by the Eastern News showed a lot of excitement by residents for the party had respected their right to freedom association.

“This is an exciting development. I hope the party will continue to respect people’s rights to free association by not disrupting their economic activities to try to shore up their numbers during rallies because if anything, that was making them very unpopular with urban voters,” James Vheremu, a vendor, said.

Another vendor said while she felt that her return onto the sidewalk had been facilitated by the party, she could not avoid the lure of a Saturday morning business opportunity for the rally.

“I may not have gone to the rally but the party has my full support, especially that it now respects that Saturday is a particularly good day for some of us to do business,” Memory Mabwe, another city centre vendor, said.

Vendors at the Sakubva vegetable market said they had been told to continue with their business but encouraged to also attend.

“We are really excited about the economic benefits of doing business on such a day because all these people are going to give us business and we hope it will stay like that throughout the campaign period,” a vendor who declined to be named said.

All set for Miss Tourism Manicaland finals

MUTARE - Miss Tourism Manicaland finals contestants are set for a boot camp to prepare them for the finals which are pencilled for next week.

Fifteen finalists from across the province and its tertiary institutions have been short-listed for the June 2 finals at a local hotel.

The pageant is being run by former Miss Zimbabwe Caroline Marufu-Buwu — its 2018 provincial licence holder — who said recently that the models would go for the grooming camp from May 29 to 31.

The boot-camp is designed to give the models an appreciation of some of the province’s tourist attractions and enhance their understanding of the sector as they would be expected to market it both to domestic and international visitors.

This is part of the event’s rebranding to give it maximum leverage in the promotion of the province’s often under-marketed tourist attractions.

Miss Tourism Manicaland winner will be the brand ambassador for the resort province and the organisers’ emphasis is on having a beauty with brains to carry the responsibility.

“This pageant will help to thoroughly scout for beauties with brains who will be true ambassadors of the beautiful Eastern Highlands region that has the potential to be the leading tourist destination in the country,” Marufu-Buwu said.

The former beauty queen said the modelling showpiece is set to exhibit the province’s unique cultural and tradition blend and diverse people’s history.
Marufu-Buwu said pageants were effective tourism marketing vehicles.

“Beauty pageants are also great way of exhibiting the country. We’re tapping into beauty pageants to market the destination,” she contends.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) initiative is expected to give the province a marketing boost as it battles for international visibility.

Eastern Highlands hospitality concerns recently slammed ZTA over what they deem is its bias towards marketing Victoria Falls ahead all other tourist attractions across the country.

Local players believe the region has world-class attractions that if marketed can match and even surpass the success the western region where Victoria Falls is a flag bearer.

In Mt Inyangani, it has the highest mountain in the country, Mtarazi Falls — at 750 metres is the tallest waterfall in the country with its skywalk and zip line, Chimanimani Mountains which are the only quartzite mountain range in Africa, Vumba with over 420 bird species has the best bird-viewing spot on the continent and Gairezi River has arguably the best fly fishing environment in the world.

There is also Leopard Rock’s 18-hole golf course, white water-rafting in Nyanga, the only trout fish breeding spots, the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, Chirinda tropical rainforest’s big tree and valley of giants, Nyanyadzi’s Hot Springs, Vimba Forest in Rusitu and its unique birds and the magical Honde Valley among many other natural wonders across the resort province.

These are only the few widely known attractions with visits to any of these revealing much more treasures.

That Chimanimani Mountains used to attract the second highest number of tourists after Victoria Falls during the country’s peak period in 1999 is testimony enough that the region is being undersold.

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