Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke yesterday described recent utterances by Secretary for Tourism and Hospitality Industry Sylvester Maunganidze that the country lied to win the bid to host the United Nations event as “political”.
Maunganidze told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism that Zimbabwe had lied to win the bid to co-host the UN World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next year in August.
“If certain things do not happen, it is because we have a Siamese twin (Zambia) who is handcuffed across the river and we breathe the same oxygen unfortunately,” Maunganidze told the committee.
But Kaseke yesterday said: “I see this lie by the permanent secretary (Maunganidze) as political.
He thinks by lying it can turn against the (Tourism) minister (Walter Mzembi). I think it’s not good to give such a damning lie. We as ZTA and the whole industry, we are fully behind our minister.”
Kaseke said he had spoken to Maunganidze about the issue and he claimed he was misquoted.
He said Zimbabwe’s bid was largely informed by facts on the ground and what the country could provide.
Mzembi at the weekend told our sister paper The Standard that Zimbabwe had won the bid to host the assembly in an open, fair and transparent manner, beating several high-profile countries like Russia, Colombia and Jordan.
The event will be co-hosted by Victoria Falls and Zambia’s Livinstone.
Turning to the construction of the convention centre, Kaseke said: “The main event in Victoria Falls will be housed in a modern marquee that would be erected on the Elephant Hills golf course with a sitting capacity of 2 000. The issue of us building a convention centre is our own initiative, it was not put in the bid, it was meant to be a legacy building.”
He, however, conceded that time was not on Zimbabwe’s side to put up the structure before the event.