Mpofu slams police roadblocks

Source: Mpofu slams police roadblocks – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 2, 2017

HOME Affairs minister Obert Mpofu says the high number of roadblocks and immigration delays do not give the country a good image as a tourist destination.


Speaking at the inaugural ‘Tourism, Security and Enablers Sector’ conference held in Harare yesterday, Mpofu said the way government has been conducting its business has confused the public and tourists.

The conference was aimed at discussing and finding solutions to the major impediments to tourism that included roadblocks, immigration delays and visa requirements.

“We have been shooting from different corners yet our target is the same, from the same government and that should have not been the case. We should have done this (dialogue) a long time ago, but the manner we have been conducting and managing our issues has confused the public and even tourists themselves,” Mpofu said.

Mpofu assumed the reins at the ministry last month in a Cabinet reshuffle, which saw Ignatius Chombo reassigned to head Treasury from the Home Affairs portfolio.

“I travel a lot and I always compare what my experience is in other countries with those of our own experiences. You drive to Zambia, South Africa, Namibia on a Zimbabwean-registered vehicle they just wave you through and do not ask you a lot of questions because to them you are an important visitor, I am not sure if we do the same,” he said.

“I have stopped at roadblocks to find foreign vehicles being subjected to a lot of questioning, that does not give us a good image as a tourist destination.”

Mpofu said the processing of papers by immigration officers for those passing through ports of entry was lengthy and arduous, longer than it did in 1980s.

“My top lieutenants have been doing their best to convince me what they are doing is right. Cde (Melusi) Matshiya (Home Affairs ministry permanent secretary) and Cde (Clemence) Masango (Immigration principal director) and the Registrar-General have been trying to justify why things are happening that way,” he said.

While national security was essential, Mpofu said, he was “not convinced this was the way” as it deterred tourists and investment.

Last year, 43,2% of tourists polled complained about harassment by the police, 14,7% cited harassment from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officers, while others cited immigration processing delays as reasons not to make future visits to Zimbabwe or recommend it.

Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry minister Edgar Mbwembwe said it was with such feedback that the Home Affairs and Tourism industries should feel compelled to work together to take corrective actions.

“I must hasten to point out that most stakeholders from the industry believe that investment in e-policing initiative could go a long way in curbing the excesses of some perceived harassment at roadblocks,” he said.

Mbwembwe said to achieve a $5 billion tourism economy from the current $1 billion required an improvement in the “existing room stock through a vigorous investment drive”. He said there was also a need to attract high spending tourists that stay longer and spend more in the destination.

The conference was organised by the Office of the President and Cabinet in conjunction with the ministries of Home Affairs and Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry.