|We’ll miss you ‘Smiling Merchant’|
|Friday, 07 September 2012 00:00|
A DARK cloud hung over the tourism and hospitality industry following the death of one of Zimbabwe’s most illustrious and firebrand conservationists, Vitalis Chadenga. Besides being the director-general of National Parks and Wildlife Management, Chadenga (56) also sat on the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board.
Sadly, the death came at a time when Zimbabwe needed him most, with the final countdown to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation 2013 General Assembly, starting in earnest.
Known in media circles as the “Smiling Merchant”, Chadenga was the vanguard of Zimbabwe’s flora and fauna, making him a vital cog in the matrix of hosting the general assembly.
It is sad again that Chadenga, who leaves behind a legacy of honest and frank talk in matters of policy, had been vital to the implementation of the wildlife-based land reform programme, which could have immensely benefited from his vision and steadfastness.
Chadenga was gifted with the art of smiling. He was eloquent but could still make a serious point.
He was an energetic big man and in charge. Whatever he touched, worked. There is no doubt, he will be sadly missed.
Wildlife is the cynosure of Zimbabwe’s tourist attractions. Chadenga, a veteran conservationist, died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare on Wednesday afternoon where he had been battling for life since being admitted last weekend.
He collapsed in Bulawayo last Thursday while attending a Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission meeting and was thereafter airlifted to the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
Chadenga was appointed National Parks director-general on May 1 2010, after rising through the ranks.
He replaced Dr Morris Mutsambiwa, whose term had expired.
Before his appointment, he was director responsible for conservation.
Since the early 1990s, Chadenga served in various capacities in wildlife and natural resources management where he was the overseer of the clearing of tsetse flies — which cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in livestock — from vast tracts of land in the Zambezi Valley.
This made the Zambezi Valley habitable.
He rose to the position of head of the Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Research and Control, leading to his appointment as chairman of the Africa executive committee of the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control at a meeting held in The Gambia in 1995.
Thereafter, he was appointed deputy director for research at the then Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management where he rose through the ranks to become the director of operations before becoming the director for conservation in the new-look National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Mourners are gathered at 848 Mount Pleasant Heights, Harare. May his soul rest in eternal peace.