The Herald (Harare)

15 February 2012

Zimbabwe: Government Orders Stop to Invasion of Tourism Assets

GOVERNMENT has ordered an immediate stop to invasion of tourism assets such as hotels, holiday homes and conservancies and directed police to arrest those engaging in such acts.

This follows reports that some individuals were invading such facilities in Manicaland and the lowveld.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, classified the invasions as "acts of banditry and sabotage".

He said the issue was debated at yesterday's Cabinet meeting and it was resolved that stern measures be taken immediately.

"Cabinet today sat and deliberated on the issue of alleged invasion of tourism facilities such as hotels, holiday homes and chalets. We resolved today that those are acts of lawlessness," Minister Mzembi said.

He said the law "provides for us to look at empowerment within the context of the country's indigenisation regulations".

The minister said he was empowered through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to achieve Government's objective of economic empowerment through licensing of tourism assets.

"There is no need for anybody to try to impress us that she or he knows indigenisation better than us," Minister Mzembi said.

He said he was in discussion with Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere over how the tourism sector should comply with the country's empowerment laws.

Minister Mzembi ordered individuals illegally occupying tourism assets "to vacate them immediately". "The police are directed to apply the law where it fits. We are at a very sensitive stage in the sector," he said.

Zimbabwe and Zambia host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Assembly in 2013, an important gathering from which the country is expected to reap huge benefits. Minister Mzembi said any behaviour that undermined economic recovery "is an act of sabotage".

There are reports that some politicians are behind the invasions of tourism facilities.

Minister Mzembi took a swipe at such individuals. "Nobody is above the law. If they are any politicians behind (the invasions), I urge the public to expose them," he said.

Minister Mzembi branded such politicians as "greedy". "The model that we feel answers the aspirations of our people is the employee share ownership scheme and Community Share Ownership Trusts where there are conservancies," he said.

He said it was legal for foreigners to own holiday homes in the country.

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