A SENIOR Finance ministry director is in the eye of a storm, after failing to disburse funds for a delegation from Zimbabwe to participate at a travel and tourism fair, which begins in Germany tomorrow.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
Zimbabwe is participating at the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB), the world’s leading travel and tourism fair, which runs from March 7 to 11.
However, preparations have been chaotic, with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) blaming an official in the Finance ministry for failing to release the funds.
ZTA chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke confirmed to NewsDay the precarious position the authority is in for Zimbabwe to participate, adding the ministry had failed to release the funds despite being ordered to do so by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, under whose portfolio tourism falls.
“We approached Vice-President Chiwenga to help us get funding from government and he duly spoke to the ministry of Finance and asked them to avail the funds, but so far, this has not been actioned. The Vice-President also spoke to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya, who promised to ensure that forex is available for us and he too is waiting on the ministry to release the funds,” he said.
What has irked ZTA is that Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa approved the release of the funds, but the official was allegedly delaying the release of the money, despite telling Chiwenga that the money had been released.
So dire is the situation that ZTA had to divert staff salaries to plug the hole and enable its delegation to participate at the fair.
The actual budget for ITB could not be established although NewsDay understands it could be over $200 000.
Kaseke said ZTA had to fund “these all important destination market and re-engagement programme” with part of staff salaries “hoping that when we get money from the Ministry of Finance we will make up for the staff salaries”.
Some staffers are still to get their February salaries.
The Tourism ministry has, in the past, accused its Finance counterpart of failing to support the marketing of the country to grow tourist arrivals.
Tourism is seen as a low-hanging fruit and provides the quickest turnaround, ahead of other sectors such as mining and manufacturing.
Treasury seemed to have acceded to the demands and has been releasing resources for the participation at major events.
Last week, ZTA had to scrounge for $47 000 to pay the ITB organisers, which secured the release of passports for the 21 players in the industry that was held by the Germany embassy until the fee had been paid.
Chinamasa terminated the call when NewsDay called yesterday.
His deputy, Terrence Mukupe’s number was not available.
Permanent secretary Willard Manungo’s number went unanswered yesterday.