First, great tidings then — a big bang!

HARARE - October started as a month of good news for zimbabwe which for so long has often been in the news for the wrong reasons all together. The country celebrated the release of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko after the Sepreme Court ordered a halt of her trial on sabotage charges.

Three other unrelated events also provided good news about Zimbabwe. A 25-member German business delegation visited Zimbabwe to assess the situation on the ground after more than a decade of shunning the country. When opening Parliament President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabwe was ready to engage the West to normalise long restrained relations.

The other event of note was a four-day international tourism and travel fair held in Harare. Organisers claimed the event attracted 1 OOO potential investors, exhibitors and wholesalers as well as 5O journalists. Many of those invited were said to have been known for a bad or wrong perception of Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke singled out the hospitality and tourist industry which clinched business deals worth US$ 2,3 billion. Hotels were planned for Harare and the tourist centres of Victoria Falls and Kariba. Kaseke was quick to point out, however, that these are obviously long-term rather than short-term projects.

On the entertainment front, teams from 13 Southern African countries were arriving for the continental COSAFA senior challenge cup currently underway in Harare and Bulawayo until November 1.

All fitted in very well with Zimbabwes efforts to re-brand itself as not only a country where to invest but also a destination of choice for tourists. The country is keen to maximise benefits from the 2O1O World Cup to be held in South Africa.

Big bang

In the midst of these great tidings, however, the bad news came with a big bang. At a resumed hearing on charges of possessing weapons for sabotage, banditry and terrorism, the secretary general of the Morgan Tvsangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), Roy Bennett, was thrown behind bars.

The MDC reacted swiftly and announced it was disengaging from President Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF) until the remaining matters in the power-sharing agreement are resolved. These include swearing-in of Bennett as deputy minister of agriculture which Mugabe has refused to do until the court case is concluded.

The Bennett case has undoubtedly posed the greatest threat to the so-called unity government which has been tottering for eight months now. Interestingly, Attorney General Johannes Tomana, whose appointment — along with that of reserve bank governor Gideon Gono — is being challenged by the MDC has told the court that the matter is so serious it must be dealt with urgently because it has plunged the unity government into in to a crisis.

Tsvangirai has once more appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which, with the African Union, are guarantors of the agreement, to intervene and save the marriage of convenience. Though stormy, many agree the marriage has eased life for Zimbabweans.

The question is: Are Mugabe and his party serious about the government of national unity? The meeting of the SADC troika schedule for the coming week may provide the final answer.

(Tim Nyahunzvi, 24 Glenville Road, Cottage 5, Hatfield, Harare. Tel; 570088 & 0912 315572)

Post published in: Opinions

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