By Robert Mukondiwa
Remember Santa Barbara? The soap that never seemed to end? Well, that seemed to be the case with Barbara Mzembi and ZTA regarding Miss Tourism and its licence. Now they haven’t quite said Santa Barbara but rather Asante Barbara!
ZTA have officially thrown out the Barbara with the bath water!
The tourism body has started in earnest the quest to replace wife of erstwhile Tourism and later Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi’s wife Barbara Mzembi as the licence holder for the coveted Miss Tourism beauty pageant.
Relations between the body and the Barbara led team had always been as sweet as marmite, but went a notch queasier when the former minister allegedly used his now dissipated clout to get his wife the licence by a spectacular arm-twist as well as funding from national coffers in spite of his wife having been expected to gather her own non-governmental financiers.
Initially, she had roped in the strong clout of Big Time Investment Group, but when the two parties fell out and the Mzembi’s politicised the fallout, the former power couple tried to force ZTA to stop suckling from the Big Time breast but ZTA and boss Karikoga Kaseke adamantly refused saying a fallout between the Mzembi’s and Big Time need not sour the milk ZTA was continuously receiving from their partner.
Big Time went on to continue their fruitful relationship culminating in the hosting of the biggest carnival arguably to have been held on the face of African soil. Now, a new licence holder is on the horizon.
“It’s not true that we have settled on a winner for the licence but we have made considerable progress and the strong front-runner is Bulawayo contender Sarah Mpofu. We are meeting her on Friday (yesterday) to see her presentation and it’s highly likely barring any last minute problems that she will clinch the licence,” said ‘Chief’ Kaseke.
Kaseke said the events of the past needed to stay there as the pageant was way bigger than the Mzembi-ZTA squabbles that had cast a greater shadow over the actual event.
“We are sure now we can start focusing on the event and I am sure because of our meticulous work we have done in the selection process, the event shall be put in the hands of an honest, willing and able player who will propel the highly esteemed event forward,” he said.
With the deposed Mzembi now facing a raft of graft charges and the sword of Damocles hanging over him for alleged naughty nicking during his tenure as tourism minister particularly during the time Zimbabwe co-hosted the UNWTO General Assembly alongside Zambia, ZTA can now shift focus from pursuing the exited minister and let the anti-corruption body worry about pursuing fairness and justice.
As of Tuesday, Mzembi was alleged to have picked up the ‘how to disappear’ manual once used for years by Osama Bin Laden and is using it rather perfectly to the book as ZACC continually fail to locate him!
However, the report was later proven not to hold much substance as the former minister pitched up in court hoping to have his bail conditions softened to allow him to pick up his passport and hit a trip down to south Africa. He was stumped when the court said ‘nay’.
“It’s a chapter that is now behind us. Thankfully!” said Kaseke.
While a lot of work had been stalled in terms of meeting pageant deadlines, it seems Miss Tourism will finally be back with a back and none of the frills of controversy that were accompanying it of late. Miss Tourism is finally out of the vortex of volatility!
The beauty pageant is beautiful again.