Tendai Kamhungira 26 July 2017
HARARE – The Tourism ministry is continuing with efforts to have police
reduce the ubiquitous roadblocks which have seen international tourists
turning their backs on the country.
Apart from scaring international tourists, the many roadblocks have led to
a national outcry by the local motoring public which accuses police of
harassment and at times, corruption during the discharge of their duties
at these stops.
The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), which represents the country’s
major tourism players, yesterday said the Tourism and Hospitality ministry
was in conversation with police over the roadblocks.
“We have in the past drawn attention to obstacles to such growth and in
this regard I would like to remind operators that Zimbabwe Council of
Tourism continues to push for reduction of roadblocks, improvement of all
roads, introduction of reliable and affordable air transport around the
country and the creation of an acceptable, smooth and efficient system of
arrival and departure procedures at Beitbridge Border Post,” ZCT president
Tich Hwingwiri told a media briefing.
“Bottom line is, we are simply seeking a win-win situation where number
one, the security of the nation cannot be negotiated, we are fully aware
of that and we are also saying business viability is a model that needs to
be attained and our business is dependent on arrivals, the more arrivals,
the more business we make…hence the inconveniences that our guys
continue to face.
“It’s a song that we will continue to sing up to a point where we all have
a common understanding of the way forward and I am very much encouraged
with the deliberations that we have been involved in,” Hwingwiri said.
Tourists have voiced distress over the ubiquitous presence of Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) details on the country’s roads, with over half of
respondents in a Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat) survey
saying they felt harassed by the cops.
Harassment by the police constituted the highest percentage of the reasons
not to recommend the country to potential tourists, at 43,2 percent,
followed by harassment by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officers at
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo has said police had been instructed
to decongest roadblocks through a directive which allowed one roadblock
within a 10km radius to promote ease of doing business.
Instead, police have actually increased the roadblocks.
In their report for the first half of 2017, police made nearly $14 million
from roadblocks and made a million arrests for traffic violations.
Meanwhile, Hwingwiri said that the number of visitors has significantly
improved in Victoria Falls after government recently commissioned a $150
million international airport that has spurred brisk tourism business in
the resort town.
This comes after Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways in April introduced
direct flights to Victoria Falls from Nairobi and Addis Ababa,
Hwingiri also announced that Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has also
set aside efforts by the Zimra to retrospectively collect Value Added Tax
on food and beverages sold as part of packaged accommodation between 2009