Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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ZanuPF stabs Mzembi in the back

Zanu PF stabs Mzembi in the back

Sunday, 30 January 2011 18:40


TOURISM and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi will always rue the
day rowdy Zanu PF supporters invaded tourism properties outside Harare last
The incident could not have come at a worse time than when the Zanu PF
legislator was busy trying to woo tourists at an international convention in
Zanu PF activists from Zvimba district invaded boating clubs and tourism
lodges around Lake Chivero, claiming their activities were part of the
indigenisation programme.
A rowdy crowd of more than 200 activists flying Zanu PF flags and chanting
the party’s revolutionary songs sealed off more than 20 properties, claiming
they were the new owners.
The original owners were blocked from getting out of the premises while
visitors were denied entry on the pretext that the properties were closed
for business to sort out some “office issues”.
Mzembi last week told The Standard how he, unaware of developments back
home, successfully launched an ambitious rebranding campaign called
“Zimbabwe: A World of Wonders”, aimed at wooing  Western tourists back to
the country.
The following morning, he woke up to the news of the invasion that spread
like a veld fire.
Shocked by the contrast between what Mzembi had said  at the launch and
reports from home, some delegates at the 31st anniversary of the
International Tourism Trade Fair approached the minister demanding answers.
“I felt very stupid and very sad at the same time,” Mzembi said in a
wide-ranging interview.
“However, the world does not care less and it is us who are shooting
ourselves in the foot.
“In this country, we have laws and processes for the acquisition of land and
businesses – I would rather we follow those.”
Like Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government, Urban and Rural Development
minister who doubles up as Zanu secretary for lands, Mzembi disowned the
invaders saying they were hired thugs.
“There is no Zanu PF cadre who behaves like that,” he said. “We have
schooled our people and they understand all the laid down procedures and
anyone who acts outside those is not Zanu PF.
“I would feel very ashamed to lead a constituency like that and I believe
they were hired people and not true Zanu PF members.”
But The Standard reveals today that the invasion was planned as far back as
October last year by war veterans who have been at the forefront of Zanu PF’s
often violent land reform and some senior government officials were kept
abreast of the developments.
Mzembi sarcastically referred to the invasions as part of the wonders his
campaign talks about.
“Is it not a wonder that when you are busy marketing a destination, someone
else is busy pulling the opposite direction,” he asked rhetorically.
“We have done extremely well in reversing negative perceptions about the
country in the past two years and we need not ruin the gains by
unnecessarily dramatising our actions.”
In continuing with his campaign, Mzembi now had an extra task of explaining
indigenisation to those who enquired about the news.
“It was not a big issue,” he said. “We nicely packaged it and told them that
the disturbances were results of outstanding business of our people who have
waited too long for empowerment.
“We assured them that our law will soon take its course and we are happy it
did as the police intervened and restored order at the properties.”
Mzembi said he was studying proposals by a 15 member sectoral committee
regarding the indigenisation of the tourism sector, which he will forward to
cabinet for consideration.
“But one observation I have made is that following the land reform
programme, 70% of our tourism assets are lying idle at farms including
lodges and game reserves,” he said.
“We will need to do an audit of assets with the aim of establishing good
areas to use the Tourism Revolving Facility to resuscitate these assets some
of which have been turned into poultry pens.
“There are also restaurants, amusement and theme parks lying idle out there
and all these will see our people participating in the tourism sector if
Mzembi also said resettled farmers can participate in tourism through
practising eco-agriculture whereby a sizeable number of best performing
farms in each province can be showcased to tourists to market the
agricultural sector.
He decried lack of funding in the sector, saying with a tenth of the money
given to other sectors of the economy, the tourism industry can treble the
US$800 million it raked in last year.
“I am not bragging but it is true that we have outperformed most of these
supported sectors with no capital deployment,” he said.
“The revolving fund will thus provide seed capital for the sector and help
players to borrow fairly cheaply.
“Players in our industry are currently borrowing over the commercial
“Notwithstanding our bid of $16 million, we got a paltry $3 million which
puts us in the group of death in terms of fiscal appropriations.”
Mzembi added that government needs to play an integral role in the sector so
as to have benchmarks for standards and pricing for easy enforcement on the
The biggest strategy however, Mzembi said, will be for each citizen to
ensure that they do not undermine the Zimbabwe brand.


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