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Wine festival hit by racism allegations

News
ORGANISERS of a wine festival held in Harare on Saturday have been accused of turning the event into a racist gathering after non-white merry-markers were barred from entering the venue although they were prepared to pay the requisite entry fees.

ORGANISERS of a wine festival held in Harare on Saturday have been accused of turning the event into a racist gathering after non-white merry-markers were barred from entering the venue although they were prepared to pay the requisite entry fees.

BY STAFF REPORTER

The festival was held at The Queen of Hearts Café in Highlands.

Security details at the festival claimed it was a “private function” despite the event having been advertised in local newspapers with patrons expected to pay $20 entry fees.

“Ticket holders were allowed entry into the same festival, but we were denied even access despite the fact that white patrons who came as we haggled with security bought tickets and were allowed in,” said a local medical doctor, who visited the place in the company of his two Asian tourist friends.

“Looking at the crowd of more than 500 people, there were about three blacks among the white revellers,” he said.

“It was very embarrassing for me to take a tourist to the local wine festival and being denied entry. Tickets were obviously being sold and to be told that without a ‘pass’, we could not enter, it was so embarrassing.”

The bouncers reportedly later produced a banner indicating the event was private despite the ongoing sale of tickets to other patrons. The tickets were labelled “The Stable Winery”.

“There were tickets being sold at $20 each. There were whites only with no other race. Is this the Zimbabwe we know or we are reverting back to Rhodesia?” another disgruntled resident asked.

Fumed a foreign visitor: “I cannot believe this type of segregation still exists in your country after 35 years of independence. We don’t experience this kind of a thing in Zambia where I come from. I felt embarrassed, humiliated and insulted by the manner we were treated.

“Do they think non-whites do not drink wine? I think people should boycott buying these racists’ wines.”

NewsDay later visited the premises after receiving the complaint, and found a predominantly white people’s event underway.

As the crew tried to negotiate its way in, an elderly white man arrived and was immediately allowed to buy the tickets without hassles.

Contacted for comment, The Stable Winery officials said they were not responsible for the event, referring questions to The Queen of Hearts Cafe officials, where a lady who identified herself as Tendai dismissed the claims saying the event was an all-race function.

“It’s not true that other races were not allowed in. You can talk to Phillipa about it, but right now she is busy. Maybe you can send her your questions on her e-mail,” Tendai said before hanging the call.

Efforts to contact Phillipa later were fruitless as she was said to have gone out of the office.