FORMER ZIMBABWE TOURISM MINISTER UNDER ADDED SCRUTINY FOR DELAYING BILLION DOLLAR DEAL
(Posted 09th April 2018)
Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Touchroad International Holdings Group in Hangzhou Province, China at a ceremony witnessed by President Mnangagwa, several other Government ministers and the CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
Touchroad had several years ago approached former president Mugabe’s Government but was inexplicably shut out, allegedly by former Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi. What was kept under lock and key for three years – and your guess why is as good as mine – now took just a few days for President Mnangagwa to give the green light for the deal to be ratified.
"We are very excited as an industry that Zimbabwe is now open for real business, thanks to the new political dispensation led by President Mnangagwa. Tourism was the most closed sector. We now realised that a lot of things were being blocked, for example this proposal from Touchroad International Holdings was given to the previous administration, but they sat on it. What questions or due diligence were they undertaking which needed three years as the new leadership took less than a day to assess the same proposal? I don’t understand why this proposal was hidden from us ZTA as the implementing agency. I can’t be blamed for smelling a rat, a very big rat for that matter‘ said Mr. Karikoga Kaseke after the signing ceremony had ended. Kaseke, it is understood, has been tasked to operationalise the new MoU and ensure that the billion dollar deal will rapidly gain shape.
His comments promptly turned the heat on even further on former Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi under whose docket this and other proposals for investments fell. Mzembi is presently facing charges in court in Harare on several counts.
Touchroad, already active with major investments in neighbouring Namibia and nearly two dozen other African countries, is now able to roll out their investments plans in areas like Victoria Falls, which reportedly was a closed shop under the former tourism administration.
The MoU comes hot on the heels of President Mnangagwa’s visit to China, where no doubt he was appraised on the failings by the former Mugabe administration vis a vis such investments.
A private sector delegation from China will visit Zimbabwe shortly to further assess investment opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry and other economic sectors which the former regime had allegedly blocked for lack of adequate ‘consideration’.