Open Letter to Minister Walter Mzembi

Greetings Honorable minister, Eng Walter Mzembi and hope wherever you are,  you are doing fine.

You have been quite a rare individual to come by of late, i guess it is the pressure associated with the campaign ahead of the UNWTO election which is scheduled for May 2017. It is by no doubt that the rest of Zimbabwe and some other African countries are rallying behind your candidature as the UNWTO Secretary General hopeful.

We believe in you and indeed you have what it takes to be UNWTO SG. It is only during your tenure as minister that Zimbabwe manged to host the Brazilian national football team in a friendly match ahead of the 2010 world cup. It is only through your ministry’s efforts in collaboration with the ZTA that we hosted the 20th session of the UNWTO conference in Victoria Falls. The nation applauds for that.

That being said, enough with the sycophancy, let me cut right to the reason behind me penning this missive.

Let me hasten to inform you that while you are busy globetrotting the world crusading and amassing voters’ approval, the tourism sector back home is burning. Here is the big heartbreak, “For the first time in 35 years, Zimbabwe wont be hosting the Sanganai/Hlanganani travel fair in 2017. This is a bad omen for the industry (Mashura padunhu).”

ZTA Chief Executive Karikoga Kaseke flanked by Mrs Chikaponya and Mr Sugar Chagonda at the 2016 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganai in Byo
ZTA Chief Executive Karikoga Kaseke flanked by Mrs Chikaponya and Mr Sugar Chagonda at the 2016 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganai in Byo

After this lugubrious blunder, putting Zimbabwe back on the picture as one of the worlds’ leading tourism destinations would need a miracle of elephantine proportions. Where in the history of tourism have you heard of a tourism driven economy failing to host a travel fair? We might dispute it but it’s a fact that Zimbabwe moved from being an agro driven economy way back and tourism has taken center stage.

Sanganai/Hlanganai is the only opportunity we get once every year to tell our story as Zimbabwe to  tell our story to the foreign world considering the large numbers of foreign journalists and buyers who attend the fair.

How this even happens under your watch honorable minister boggles the mind, don’t you think somewhere somehow, you have diverted your energy towards serving a purpose that might not translate to some direct benefit to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.

Honestly, US$500 000 can not be reason enough to cancel a tourism fair of Sanganai/Hlangani’s magnitude considering the revenue the sector generates through tourism receipts. Dont you think this is the time you negotiate with your colleagues in government in particular minister Chinamasa to at least suspend Civil Servants bonus payments and focus on efforts to revive this economy. This is where the sector needs you the most.

Could you and your colleagues divert the energy you put when fundraising for other events like birthdays and galas, i think Sanganai would be rescued from the woods.

If only you could direct the zeal you are exhibiting in campaigning for the UNWTO post towards revival of the local tourism industry, i believe even after you throw in the towel (Which is something you are likely to do soon after landing the big post), we would talk of you as the man who fought a good fight for this sector.

Funding towards the tourism industry remains very insignificant. This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe’s economy is now highly informalised and tourism is the key economic driver. With enough funding, i believe the sector could emerge as the biggest economic pillar, contributing significantly across all other sectors.

It is my biggest plea that you once again look back home and prioritise and save this dear sector that faces imminent death if not attended to.

With these few words, let me say good luck in your quest to head the biggests tourism organisation in the world. We are behind you.

Yours Sincerely

Michael Gwarisa


The Business Connect










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