Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi has come under fire from Harare city fathers after he ordered out an MDC-T councillor from a national function.
Mzembi ordered MDC-T Ward 40 councillor, Herman Karimakwenda, to leave the high table at the launch of the tourism month function held at a city hotel held by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) on Wednesday last week.
In an embarrassing episode Mzembi told Karimakwenda, who was there as a representative of Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, to leave the venue as he was “too junior” to attend such functions.
He said: “This is a high-esteem event and the mayor should have sent someone senior. We cannot belittle such a world-class event by sending a mere councillor from Dzivarasekwa.
“I have told him to go and tell the mayor that it was unacceptable,” he told the gathering.
Councillors during a full council meeting on Thursday said Mzembi’s action was ill-timed as it had a potential to affect the national healing process and the inclusive government.
Masunda said Mzembi had to apologise for his “uncouth behaviour” that demeaned a democratically elected councillor.
Masunda described the incident as unfortunate and least expected from a full Cabinet minister. Fuming councillors said the action by Mzembi was unwarranted and the only decent thing the minister could do was to apologise to council.
“He thinks he is now (too)big and powerful because he was appointed minister by Zanu PF and (President Robert) Mugabe. Why should they claim monopoly over patriotism?” said Councillor Peter Moyo. “We know how he got into power and now he is abusing democratically elected councillors. They should not attend our affairs and we should not attend theirs as well,” he said.
Other councillors said they had suffered a lot of abuse from Zanu PF at national events where officials from that party officiated. “In most instances, MDC-T officials now are reluctant to attend the events for fear of being humiliated, as was the case at the ZTA function,” said Councillor Wellington Chikombo.
Zanu PF officials, even those at junior level, routinely attack and belittle senior MDC officials in the inclusive government, through the public media without any rebuke.