Harare carnival can’t happen soon

Source: Harare carnival can’t happen soon – DailyNews Live January 11, 2017


HARARE – One of the biggest events in Zimbabwe – the Harare International
Carnival – could not happen last year and rightly so because it could have
been suicidal on the part of the organisers.

With the country on the edge and mass protests occurring at every turn, it
was wise for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to shelve any plans of
staging the mega street jamboree in 2016.

This year also, given that it will be a  campaign year with protests most
likely to occur as political parties and activists push for electoral
reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

With others certainly pushing for President Robert Mugabe to quit, I have
doubts that the event will take place at all.

Last year, the ZTA was diplomatic as it continuously postponed dates for
the event until the year came to an end and you could not blame the
tourism body for that.

While ZTA gave varying reasons for the continued postponement, including
scarce resources, I am sure government security chiefs had advised them
that it would be unwise for them to group so many innocent people
together. It was akin to bringing unsuspecting people to the slaughter

In 2015, the ZTA staged the colourful event and it attracted an estimated
200 000 people who thronged the streets of Harare, shutting down all
business as the streets were engulfed by people of all colour; the young
and old.

The people who came out for the street party surprised many, including the
organisers themselves and even security chiefs and politicians were caught

A record number of countries took part in the procession and even police
details on duty were consumed by the sea of people that merrily enjoyed
the fun-filled convergence. Food outlets ran out of beverages and the
whole Central Business District was filled with human traffic.

And, thank God, the street parties went without any incidences but I do
not think that could have been the same if that event took place last year
– the year of mass protests.

It could have been suicidal and foolish on the part of ZTA if it dared
stage the event last year as pressure groups and political activists could
have taken advantage of the masses in attendance to voice their anger and
hold impromptu protests which could by default capture all in attendance,
hence cause untold mayhem.

What could have happened could be anyone’s guess.

ZTA should not be tempted to stage the Harare International Carnival this
year. It would be wishful thinking on their part that this could be an
incident-free event because people out there are hungry, angry and could
grab the opportunity to show this.

Yes, the people might attend in their numbers but in the middle of the
street parties they would vent their anger and loot or even engage in
activities that endanger the life of innocent women and children. This is
not the time to hold such happy events.

A carnival is a happy outing in which people from different backgrounds
meet to just be merry, dance, sing and showcase their best cultural
costumes. That time and mood is definitely not now.

The only time ZTA can attempt to bring this mega event back is probably
next year, 2018 after the elections, and only if the aftermath is peaceful
and conducive, otherwise it will have to be in 2019.

The Harare International Carnival is also made possible by nationals from
other countries and holding it amid uncertainties and fear of protests
will see most visitors snubbing the event which in itself will milk out
the glitz.

I am glad though that the Victoria Falls Carnival did take place at the
end of last year and went on smoothly with thousands of tourists and
merrymakers converging at the tourist resort.

However, Victoria Falls is not Harare, and I hope ZTA will take this
advice seriously lest they create chaos in the capital city.