Isdore Guvamombe Reflections
The tourism and hospitality industry was left at sixes and sevens this past week following a brazen public spat between its minister, Dr Walter Mzembi, and its authoritative regulator, Dr Karikoga Kaseke.
One of the most dignified industries in the country was agog with a high-sounding tale of two educated men, full of thunder and fury but signifying nothing! Virtually nothing!
It was a story that this villager personally thought was not worth bringing out in the public domain, but could be handled behind closed doors.
Back in the village, fundamental leadership principles entail that a boss praises his subordinates in public, but fires salvos in private.
The reverse is what happened and it was indeed a shame. Leadership doctrine was thrown out of the window in the full glare of the public in a manner that would make even chickens in my village scamper with laughter.
It was Dr Mzembi who went to the media chastising his subordinate in public instead of summoning him to his office, if there was any issue.
Dr Kaseke then “clarified” of course, giving the media rare good copy. One business mogul, Mr Justice Maphosa, a God-fearing, very good and responsible foreign-based Zimbabwean by any measure, was the cynosure of the story.
Maphosa, a villager turned business- man from Gwanda who is based in South Africa from where he has taken a bold step to decentralise his investments to Zimbabwe big time, through his company Big Time Strategic Group, must have been livid to see his good name being soiled.
Big Time Strategic Group last year bankrolled Miss Tourism Zimbabwe – a project fronted by Dr Mzembi’s wife Barbra – and gave it spectacular lustre and an ostentatious ambience to match world-class standards.
However, this year Maphosa decided to withdraw sponsorship after being miffed by back-biting and mudslinging.
Ironically, Maphosa decided, among a multifarious array of corporate social responsibility projects in Zimbabwe, to invest more than a million dollars to the crowd-pulling Harare International Carnival, and . . . and . . . and as a show of appreciation, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority decided to rebrand the carnival to Big Time Harare International Carnival.
It is never a joke to part with a million dollars on a feel good project and fail to be recognised. That is global standard practice!
Any man who convinces me that it is wrong to name the carnival after the biggest sponsor might as well convince the Catholic Pope to purchase condoms! What a fallacy?
Suffice to say, Maphosa had also bankrolled part of Dr Mzembi’s campaign for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation top job, Big Time and strategically, too.
Therefore, something terribly big or small went wrong between the minister and Mr Maphosa. The unfortunate thing is that the fallout between the two former friends has spilled into the tourism industry.
It is fact and not fiction that the Government itself is cash-strapped but Treasury managed to allocate the carnival $400 000.
Under the circumstances, this is a serious commitment and demonstration of the great value it sees in the carnival, which has since become a national event.
If anything, Dr Mzembi should have been the first person to celebrate the coming on board of a sponsor of Maphosa’s calibre, who brings depth and real meaning to the concept of public private partnerships.
From village wisdom, the running of the carnival is an operational issue and not a policy matter and, therefore, this villager finds it hard to understand the tiff between the two doctors. Karitundunduweeeeee!
Back in the village, do elders with cotton tuft hair not say a man who goes to sleep with an itchy behind wakes up with smelly fingers?
Going forward, the tourism and hospitality industry must not be treated to this kind of circus at a time when it seriously needs investors like Maphosa.
At a time when State is grappling with the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe strategy, Karitundundu, the ageless village autochthon of wisdom and knowledge, then wonders how it can be achieved with such counter-productive mentality shown in scoffing at one serious sponsor, like Big Time Strategic Group? A little bird that hops from the ground to the anthill might never remember it is still on the ground.
This villager is thoroughly disillusioned and has decided to decamp to the village in search of more knowledge and wisdom from the autochthons. To the ancestors be the glory. Karitundunduweee!