Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer, Karikoga Kaseke has escalated his tiff with the former Tourism minister, Walter Mzembi after claiming that he regrets giving a modelling operators license to the now Foreign Affairs Minister wife Barbara Mzembi.
Kaseke said the decision, although done procedural was a mistake as it was in conflict of interest since Barbara’s husband was the Minister of Tourism which superintends over the running of ZTA.
“We issued a license to a private operator who is Mrs Mzembi…but we should not have issued her with that license because it has caused us a lot of problems. There is a lot of conflict that has emanated from this decision because she is the wife of the Minister.
“If we had then wanted to withdraw the license, she would have come to us and say we are breaching the agreement, so we cant revoke the license.
“We have discussed this issue at board level and I have been blasted for issuing the license, they have been asking me if i hadn’t seen that there was conflict of interest,” said Kaseke.
He was responding to allegations that his office and Mzembi were at loggerheads with regards to the running of the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, a pageant which is under the patronage of Mzembi.
Kaseke added that ZTA remains the license issuer and holder of the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe pageant, refuting claims that Mzembi had overtaken the running of the MTZ.
During a press conference held in Harare recently, Mzembi, however, insisted that the pageant was not registered in her name.
“This pageant is not in the name of Barbara Mzembi. It belongs to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and they are the ones who have been running this pageant for years,” she said.
Her sentiments followed ZTA head of corporate affairs, Sugar Chagonda’s claims that they surrendered the pageant licence to Mzembi under her Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Trust in 2014.
“We are not part of the pageant, it is run by Barbara Mzembi,” Chagonda was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Kaseke said he is hopeful that the newly appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development , Ignatius Chombo will deliver on incentives recently promised to ZTA by his predecessor, Patrick Chinamasa.
Chinamasa is believed to have said treasury was obliged to avail funds towards tourism development towards building capacity to attract more foreign visitors into the country.
Mzembi and Kaseke have previously clashed after the former had agreed to naming the Harare International Carnival to Big Time Harare Carnival to reflect the name of the sponsor, Big Time Strategic International. Mzembi however dismissed the new plan saying government was the main sponsor of the event.
In March this year, the two clashed again after Kaseke had cancelled plans to hold the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo with Mzembi again informing the nation that it was not the position of government as it was prepared to fund the annual tourists fete that has always worked to market the country to tourists and tourism investors.