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Dear Honourable Minister Walter Mzembi

By Rejoice Ngwenya

Ordinarily I do not write to, but about Ministers.

Today, I embark on a necessary nonetheless risky departure from the norm only due to the gravity and urgency of my message – addressing you directly as Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi (right) seen here with his wife
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi (right) seen here with his wife

Being a member of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, you are obviously under pressure to tow the partisan line in this Save Valley Wildlife Conservancy property rights scandal.

For almost twelve years, your party has been at the helm of unfairly portraying investors like Wilfried Pabst – German vice-chairman of the conservancy – as ‘undesirable white people’.

Zimbabweans of European origin – except if there are compliant – are treated like criminals, beaten up or arrested merely for exercising their property rights. ZANU-PF, through its primeval fast track land ‘reform’ program, has consequently sent millions of farming dependants into destitution.

Even companies and mines owned by white Zimbabweans have either been plundered or grabbed in the name of indigenisation.

And now, some 1000 workers at Save Conservancy are on the verge of joblessness, again through inhuman expropriation of commercial farmland by what Professor Patrick Bond terms crony capitalists and phony nationalists.

Mr. Mzembi, there is a high tide of poisonous political water tumbling towards you, but your heroic resilience to protect the already shredded reputation of our country is commendable.  Your colleagues in ZANU-PF are labelling you a ‘sell-out’ on the basis of your principled stand against satanic patronage.

They hardly care about the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly being on high alert, given the 4 000 participants destined for Victoria Falls next year. How much more idiotic can we Zimbabweans be in the face of public international scrutiny?

Strange how honesty is rewarded in your party. Sylvester Maunganidze, former permanent secretary in your ministry was ‘redeployed’ for disclosing that Zimbabwe had lied about the state of its infrastructure to win the UNWTO bid.

He had no reason to lie. Our fate is engraved in the ZANU-PF 2000 – 2013 electoral manifesto!

If Zimbabwe has to ‘qualify to host anything’, we have to upgrade airports, revamp water and sewer reticulation systems, resurface roads, rehabilitate public hospitals, increase electricity generation, free the media, reform our electoral laws, close political torture  camps, repeal POSA, de-militarise public institutions, release political prisoners, then vote a democratic government into power!

Besides, Mr. Mzembi, which sensible country can have a functional tourism industry without an efficient national airline? It is not reasonable to expect UNWTO delegates to be comfortable discussing tourism in a country where rule of law does not prevail.

I like it when you admonish Environment Minister Francis Nhema; National Parks and Wildlife Authority director Vitalis Chadenga for “promoting greed” by parcelling out the Save Wildlife Conservancy to 25 ZANU-PF cronies, most of who also benefited from the country’s chaotic land ‘reform’.

The clueless Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has even supported you by arguing how “government should remove illegal settlers encroaching onto the conservancies.” I guess the Save villagers have to wait a bit longer for ‘indigenised’ community share ownership schemes.

By the time they receive their ‘share certificates’, there won’t be any animals to hunt, except high-level ZANU-PF private property hooligans!

My suggestion, Mr. Mzembi, is that if legislators Ailess Baloyi (Chiredzi South), Ronald Ndama (Chiredzi North) and the party’s provincial chairman, Lovemore Matuke, who are leading the barbaric assault on Save Wildlife Conservancy, refuse to budge, just do the honourable thing. Resign.

Tarnishing your life-long reputation just for a one-week conference is not exactly award-winning!

Sincerely, Rejoice Ngwenya